During quarantine, many found themselves with more free time than ever. Anna Melkerson was one of those people. A flight attendant on voluntary furlough, she asked a long-time friend where she could volunteer.
“She told me to call Samantha at Home of Hope, and I did, that day,” Anna said.
On her first day, Anna’s assignment was to prepare a house that had been set aside as a quarantine house – which, because of the great need, had to be opened back up for new families coming to the home. And while Anna was happy to help however she could, she had a secret hope.
“I really wanted to work with the kids,” she said.
So, the minute Kids Club opened back up, Anna began volunteering there.
“I’ve been fortunate to spend a lot of time with a couple of kids in particular. For example, I know one of them doesn’t like chocolate. Another one just loves to ask questions and always wants to make sure he’s doing the right thing,” she said. “One little girl Snapchats my daughter all the time, and her brother and I love to play basketball, soccer, football, water games, or whatever together.
“During spring break this year, I promised to bring them whatever they wanted from Chick-fil-A. So they gave me their orders, Polynesian Sauce and all. But when I showed up ten minutes late, I found them on the couch with their arms crossed and they asked me why I was late. I just started laughing,” she said. “The way they looked at me – they were just so funny about it. And of course they forgot they were mad after about a minute into their lunch.
“When I’m with them, I get to do all the fun stuff and act like a kid myself,” Anna laughed. “I’m not their teacher or their mom. And while I make sure they mind their manners and clean up after themselves, it’s super easy. I just love being with them.”
This love for the kids at Home of Hope has given Anna a view into the lives of their moms. What she sees is inspirational.
“It is not just a free ride at Home of Hope; you do your work. And these moms work so hard to make a difference for their children – I could cry just thinking about it,” she said. “Life is not easy, but this program is all about teaching them how to get back on their feet to provide for their family.”
When asked what she loves most about being a Home of Hope volunteer, Anna couldn’t decide on just one answer.
“There are so many things. In fact, I can’t say one negative thing about it,” she said.
“I just love the people who work here, because they’re full of inspiration and are so kind, caring and loving. Home of Hope is a safe place, and the kids don’t feel like they’re living in a shelter. They laugh and giggle and pout and cry just like any other kid. They have their own room and bathroom and share responsibilities just like they would in a home of their own.”
And. aside from the safety and dignity Home of Hope provides, Anna has also observed a special bond between the families that stay here.
“It’s like a big family. They all know each other’s kids and who lives in which house. They’re all really connected.
“The kids are also very close with each other. Over spring break, I put together a spring olympic games, and I prepared four goodie bags for them. We ended up with five kids participating, and when there weren’t enough bags, they were so good about sharing with each other and looking out for each other,” she said. “They just love being around each other and love having someone else around their age.
“And the things that I do for them aren’t much, but they’re always very grateful to me for doing it. In fact, I feel like I’m the selfish one, because I get so much out of my time with these kids.
“I really can’t think of a better way to spend my free time.”
Sold on becoming a volunteer with Home of Hope? Visit homeofhopegcs.org/volunteer.