Our journey continues and year 3 is underway. It started the same way that year 2 of our project began, with a volunteer experience in an animal enrichment workshop. The Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo is a non-profit that has the mission to connect children with animals while strengthening families and inspiring others to care. It is internationally recognized for its first-class animal exhibits and hands-on activities for children. It has been rated as a Top 10 Zoo for children by many national and international publications. It is a popular tourist attraction and a true treasure for the Fort Wayne community.
As you know, we are a family that loves all animals. We love the zoo and we were excited to volunteer in the animal enrichment workshop once again. This workshop gives families and groups a chance to create objects that stimulate animal’s interests and encourage natural behaviors. These items are hand-crafted by the volunteers and used to enrich the lives of the zoo’s animals. We were joined this week by two of MaKenna’s friends. Our girls are inspiring other youth to take action and each week there are requests to volunteer with us. It is always nice to see children exposed to new ways of serving others.
We made paper-mache toys that were covered with paint. Kenna and the girls created a large tiger and a unicorn. Erica and I painted smaller toys. Erica’s were bright and colorful while mine were dark brown, yellow, and orange. Yuck! Thankfully the animals don’t care. We also spent some time braiding rope using brown paper towel. All of the toys created during the workshop are given to the animals. They will play with them and since treats are often embedded in them, they will also chew on them. Like last year, we really enjoyed our time at the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo. We encourage everyone to learn about these workshops and take some time to help out the animals.
It was a great experience to kick off another year of service for many reasons. First, it was another opportunity for us to serve together as a family. As a husband and a parent, I cherish every moment I get to spend time with my beautiful wife and girls. Helping others makes that time even more special. Second, we were able to expose Kenna’s friends (two twelve-year old girls) to volunteerism. They seemed to have an awesome time and we are happy that they were able to join us. Lastly, we met a young man named Dustin who was volunteering in the workshop that inspired us. He lives in Nashville and he is in Fort Wayne for a few weeks for college clinical work at Parkview Hospital. He is not a resident of our city, but he wanted to get out and volunteer. He could have sat in his hotel room, caught a movie, or enjoyed one of Fort Wayne’s other tourist attractions. He, however, chose to give back. That, my friends, is inspiring. The next time you go away for an extended stay or vacation, think about Dustin. Are you willing to make the same decision he did? I hope so.