Thursday, June 13, 2013

Party Time

I am not writing about writing about writing today.  

For me, June is a month of parties.  My birthday was yesterday.  My husband and youngest son’s are next week.  Then there is my mother-in-law, sister-in-law and all two of my nephews.  Throw in our fifteen-year anniversary and Father’s Day, and there is hardly a day left in June when we aren’t celebrating.  So I feel like a little rejoicing is in order.  

But I don't want to focus on the traditional milestones.  Today, my confetti will fly in celebration of COPE (Caring Outreach by Parents in Evanston.)

A few years ago, I started a small volunteer group at my children’s school.  The idea was to respond to a family crisis in the same way that a church might:

Bring a casserole
Provide a carpool
Find a resource
Coordinate or host a play date

The first year was great.  We did all of these things and we also began taking requests from our school social worker to respond in other ways.  In one instance, a family with four kids had just moved to town with nothing but the clothes on their backs.  We sent an email to the parents at our school and began trolling Freecycle.  Within hours, people responded:

I have a brand new vacuum cleaner that we didn’t like.  It’s still in the box.

We just got a new couch.  Do you want the old one?

We are moving and decided to buy a bunch of new furniture.  We can donate two beds, two TV’s, a couch and dressers.

Our kids are the same size, does the family need clothing?

Between myself and another mom, we were able to fill their entire apartment with furniture, kitchen goods, clothing, toys and appliances.

We were blown away by the generosity of our neighbors.

In our second year, we did some fundraising, added a monthly grocery delivery program, partnered with the school garden and shared the idea of COPE with another school.  OrringtonSchool’s COPE was up and running within a month.  Then Dawes School began theirs.  This year, we added COPEs at:

With Oakton and King Lab on their way

It’s kind of amazing what a little elbow grease can produce.  Beginning next year, nine of our district schools will have volunteer response teams on hand to support, find resources and provide help to Evanston families.

Now THAT’S something to celebrate!

Kids pictured here are making casseroles to deliver to local families.

Latasha and Hyun Joo (COPE Volunteers) show off their World Book Night books

 Kingsley parents and students decorate jars to put in classrooms and raise money for the Dravet Foundation

All smiles at the benefit concert


  1. That's fantastic. I was involved in a similar, although much smaller program, as a football parent. We weren't organized like you. Some of the football mom's kept track of families who'd had sons on the team. If they needed anything, emails went out and people helped.

  2. What a totally awesome group. Kudos to you for starting something so wonderful! And Happy Birthday to you and the rest of your family members who are celebrating! :)

  3. Hi Ann! A lot of places will do something in response to a need and that's great! We thought that if there was an organized group at every school, things would be less likely to fall through the cracks and people would know who to turn to. Right now, there is a mom dying of breast cancer. The only bright spot in the situation is that everyone knows we have the dad and children's back.

  4. What a WONDERFUL thing to do!!

  5. I celebrate you! You make me smile.