(contributed by Susan Ray)
Mona/Jane adored babies. She always believed that each new, fresh, wonderful child welcomed into the world brought with him or her a bright hope for the future. She always said any baby could grow up to change the world for the better.
As an only child, she had a very lonely childhood, so always dreamed of one day having a home filled with babies and children and love. One of the programs she hoped to become more involved with were those allowing volunteers to hold and comfort very small and/or very ill babies.
Although some medical centers welcome ‘cuddlers’, some hospitals prefer the community care for these most fragile of babies in other ways, such as crocheting blankets for them, knitting caps, donating preemie diapers to the family, or by taking advantage of other less hands-on, but just as necessary opportunities.
If snuggling with these tiny bundles of sweetness and hope is something that you’ve always wanted to do, please check with your local medical community to find the ways you can best support the newborns in need of so much love and care and cuddling. Below are a few links to get you started:
So, there you are on Jane’s Day of Service – or any day of the year – sitting in the line at a drive-through, feeling impatient and hungry and distracted by all of the to-dos still left un-done on your list. You glance into the rear view mirror and it’s an older couple, or a scowling businesswoman or a young man looking out the window absently. And then you remember that everyone has a lot on their minds and in their hearts.
Paying it forward is as easy as asking the drive-through person peering at you from the window how much the bill is for the car behind you. Then you pay for all or part of their ticket. If you can spare a buck or two or five – that’s OK. If you don’t flinch at buying the 15 burgers and drinks for the soccer team the woman behind you was picking up – go for it!
Just be sure to say, “Please ask them to Pay It Forward, too. Thanks!”
And there it is – you have made someone’s day a little happier; you’ve surprized a stranger with a good deed – and ideally inspired them to do the same in their travels. Mona/Jane would be delighted!
Please share the ways you’ve paid-it-forward, and your reaction to having been the recipient of such thoughtfulness. Do you have additional ideas, suggestions, ways more people might take part? Please share them with us!
(Contributed by Susan Ray)
Jane’s Day of Service on February 28th, is the perfect time to begin your garden and/or volunteer with your local community garden! Mona/Jane always said that the winter months are perfect for perusing seed catalogues, and ideal for reviewing notes from last year’s garden to learn which plants flourished and which varieties might have struggled. Snowy days offer the best opportunity to reassess, to dream, to plan – and to order early lettuce and unusual green bean seeds!
Mona/Jane loved to share her garden with family and friends. As her granddaughter-in-law and I can attest, every plant came with information and a tutorial. Mint, sage, thyme and savory are all in the same family of plants. Carrots like stone-free, loose soil, whereas squash is practically a weed, so it will grow almost anywhere given space and sunlight.
Finding the place in the yard where a plant is ‘happy’ is vital, as is knowing each one’s characteristics. For example, tomatoes are delighted when borage, peppers and basil share a large container pot, but those same tomato plants will suffer if cabbages and cauliflower are not grown some distance away.
One of the many ways you can take part in Jane’s Day of Service is by planting a few flower or vegetable seeds in a flower pot on your windowsill or get involved with your local community garden. If you have no interest in plants beyond enjoying the fragrance of a flower, you can adopt a garden in New England, in Cincinnati, Kansas City, New York City – almost anywhere in the US.
Another option if you are one of those special and much-appreciated Green Thumbers is to teach current and new generations about the benefits of gardening by becoming a Master Gardener, or by teaching a class to local 4-H members.
If you’d rather not commit to a garden, but enjoy crafts, love spring and find joy in brightening other people’s gray days, you can easily make living baskets for friends or as gifts to drop off at a senior center or youth home.
One of Mona/Jane’s favorite projects was creating grass and flower filled baskets for living Easter or Mother’s Day baskets complete with miniature rakes, benches, and dyed eggs.
These are really quite easy to make and can be as simple or as extravagant as your time and imagination allow.
- Begin with any size basket – thrift stores have plenty to choose from during the colder months.
- Line the inside with a hole-free plastic bag. Make sure there are no splits or tears that might allow water to seep through later.
- Fill with good quality dirt, then plant wheat berries or grass seed.
- Water generously, but do not make a soup of seeds and dirt.
- Place basket in sunny place and keep moist, not wet – and out of the reach of pets if indeed you’d like a healthy crop of green in approximately two weeks.
- As the grass grows, you might need to ‘mow’ it occasionally with a pair of scissors.
- When ready to give the basket as a gift, poke the stems of cut flowers into the soil, tuck miniature eggs beneath the lush grass, or place small figures, and/or gardening tools on low-cut plots of grass. (If feeling especially gardenny, include small, living flowering plants such as miniature daisies or carpet tulips, etc.)
- Be sure to include a note about the need to provide sunlight and water for the plants, and ways in which the contents can be composted and recycled.
This is a fun way an individual or a group can participate in Jane’s Day of Service and share their love of gardening and flowers with folks who might need a little more sunshine in their lives. It’s relatively inexpensive, but the happiness it brings is priceless!
Please let us know how you used your love of plants and/or crafting to take part in Jane’s Day of Service. We’d love to see – and share – your photos, too!