On Tuesday, January 14th, Maranatha SDA Christian School students volunteered at the Oconto Falls Senior & Community Center by putting their muscles to use and helped with the routine cleaning that needed to be done so that the director could spend extra time working on projects also needing attention.
The center is home to many functions for the senior members of the community. Meals on Wheels, Christmas Dinner, Adult Day-Care, Senior Dining, Dance Class, and many other useful social and practical events are hosted and made available. One student summed up the functions of the center as “a place where older people can go and not feel so lonely.” The center also serves as a welcome center for younger community members as well so the calendar is full, thus necessitating frequent cleaning, especially when so much dirt is being tracked in on wintry wet shoes.
We didn't know how much work we would be able to do, but everyone pitched in and quickly got to work. Starting in the main community room; windows were washed, surfaces dusted, tables and chairs wiped down, floors swept and mopped, rugs vacuumed, and counters were scrubbed. One student observed that “it was a big room with lots of space for people.” When we looked at the clock we had only been there about an hour. Since we still had time, we tackled the entryway, steps, and basement. While the basement was mostly about sweeping and mopping floors; we still wiped down tables, chairs, counters, and even decided to wash the walls where the dance class toes stretched on the ballet bar. We made short work of a big job and made it fun as we worked together. One of the girls pointed out that, “It's fun working somewhere else.” This thought was echoed by one who added, “It is always more fun to clean someoneelse's place than your own.” And being able to squeak your shoes on the freshly mopped floors was fun to experiment with. Students figured out who had the squeakiest shoes and also discovered that the squeakiest shoes were different than the shoes with the highest pitch.
Workers, whether paid or volunteer, in centers with so many projects going on are often long on work and short on time to get it all done. Being able to lift their load and tackle chores that are easily done by others is a blessing. When we finished, the director shared how much she appreciated all of our work. We tackled and finished in about 2 hours what it would normally take her a good 4 hours to work on by herself. That made us feel so good to know that it wasn't just that we saved her a little time, but blessed her with a large chunk of time to work on other important needs. She surprised us with a treat of cookies and Kit Kat Bars as an appreciation.
When asked about what they specifically enjoyed about the day, students shared some interesting ideas. One of the girls liked mopping because the style of mop and bucket were new to her and interesting to work with. Our youngest also enjoyed mopping because he could put his muscles to good use. Another student shared that she enjoys washing windows and so the task was enjoyable to clean theirs. While our high school helper added on that, “It is fun to help someone who needs and appreciates the help.”
We don't always think about leadership being learned in the little tasks of life. We often forget that learning basic life skills and how to faithfully work through the mundane, monotonous, and even overlooked tasks develop focus, competence, commitment, self-esteem, generosity, and independence. Thankfully, we are able to spend time working on these life skills, leadership lessons, and contribute to our community today while developing what we need to be leaders in the years to come.