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advice from an

ordinary dad

foundation for



{ by: dean ehrenheim }

grew up in a middle class family. My parents were teachers. We

my plate.

were not rich, but we were not poor. I remember my parents

That experience and others like it have helped shape my

would often say things like, “Don’t keep up with the Jones” and

character. My experiences and my faith motivate me to serve

“Money doesn’t grow on trees.” But just the same, we didn’t want

those less resourced. That is why I choose to work at the YMCA,

for much…at least much of what really mattered, like food and

a place that is for youth development, healthy living and social



But I didn’t have to look very far to see others in real need. My

As a dad, I hope to pass along that spirit of service and

own cousins were very poor. Growing up, I didn’t know that. Maybe

volunteerism to my kids. Kids shouldn’t have to experience the

I should have guessed because each time we visited they lived in a

intensity of poverty for them to embrace a servant’s heart. As

different place. Poverty and welfare often encourages a transient

parents, we should foster that through teachable moments and

lifestyle, never staying in one place long.

deliberate actions. Creating a path to service can start at home.

Start young

I remember the first time I truly realized their situation. It was a

family meal at my grandmother’s house. We loved my grandmother and her cooking. She could make the best meatloaf and often did.

While it may not seem quite as “inspiring” as digging a well in

On this one occasion, my cousins were there. That was special in

Uganda, service learning should begin at home. Home is where

and of itself, since they did not visit us much. The dinner was great

you can demonstrate that not all service work is fun and exciting.

and I ate nearly every bit of it, leaving a pea here and a pea there,

Making their bed, unloading the dishwasher and sweeping the

a bite of mashed potatoes and some partially eaten bread. But I

kitchen may seem mundane, but being willing to help out with

was done, full and happy. Then I looked at my cousin’s plate. It

family chores will instill a strong foundation of service learning.

was clean…no really clean. There wasn’t a scrap to be found. This

As your child grows, so should their serving opportunities.

ordinary meal was tasty to me, but was substenance to my cousins

Take your kids outside the four walls of your home into your

and they ate like they were starving. I guess they may have been.

neighborhood. Rake the neighbors leaves, walk their dog, wash

It was the best meal they had in days, maybe months. I will never

their car, mow the lawn. Do it and don’t look for a thank you or a

forget that day and how bad I felt leaving even those few scraps on

reward. I love the idea of a “rake and run” experience. True service


. July 2012

Owensboro Parent - July 2012  
Owensboro Parent - July 2012  

Owensboro Parent, the FREE guide to raising a family in Owensboro, Kentucky. Featured Articles: Parent Talk, The Last Cupcake, Adoption A...