Keeping Up with the Dundees: The Write Stuff
Welcome to the first edition of Keeping Up with the Dundees in the new year! As a part of our go-getting, change-making global community here at Laurel Springs, the Dundees have so much in store for this month and year, but, before we officially step into 2021’s threshold, let’s take a brief look back at how 2020 turned out for Small Acts Big Change™ (SABC). Despite the pandemic and challenge of helping communities while social distancing and following safety protocols, the Dundees’ efforts reached over 4,000 people and 3,000 animals with the aid of 2,500+ volunteers. That’s a lot of numbers and a lot of worldwide difference. Sophomore Gracie looks back over last year with humility for the change SABC brought on and insight for the innovative, impromptu ways they impacted all kinds of life. “2020 was a good year for us because we learned to adapt to what was happening in the world to find another way to get people involved in volunteering.”
Aside from navigating nine annual campaigns in a new world, alumna Lauren explains how SABC grew its international influence with more volunteers from different countries and continents than ever before: “Our big surprise here was that we had an increase in the number of volunteers from all over the world… who are getting involved to help, not just people in the US. That was a nice surprise. We will continue to grow the number of at-home volunteer projects posted on our blog so that the volunteers who follow us will have new opportunities every month to make a difference from home,” This was made possible by creating a blog, Make a Difference From Home. Twenty-seven volunteer-from-home projects were added to the blog throughout last year—an initiative that the Dundees will continue throughout 2021. LSS families looking to give back should continue to check back for new additions..
The new methods we discovered to connect with one another in 2020 is another point of success and inspiration for SABC’s work in 2021. Kicking off January right, SABC recruited another 100 volunteers in the first ten days of the year. In an increasingly digital world, this is one example of how community blossoms beyond borders and boundaries. However, that’s not to say that physical connection and tangible love through the forms of art and handwritten communication are lost. This month, SABC is dedicated to serving up “The Write Stuff” to seniors through homemade cards—a personal “touch” that delivers hope and heart rather than isolation and distance in our pandemic-stricken reality.
Will You Be My Valentine?
In its ninth year, “Valentines for Seniors” is still going strong. This month, SABC is hoping bring on enough volunteers to create and safely distribute 1,000 Valentine’s Day cards to residents in nursing facilities and long-term care centers. Recognizing the loneliness that many seniors are experiencing after almost a year in lockdown, the Dundees wish more than ever before to build bonds and break down COVID barriers with this DIY project. “Apart from last year, each year we have been able to bring happiness on Valentine’s Day to more nursing care residents than the year before. This year, we have set a goal to deliver over 1,000 Valentines. That’s a big goal, but we are hopeful we can reach it with help from a terrific team of volunteers.” Lauren realizes that this is not an easy feat when in years past as many as 750 volunteers have helped give out the cards to seniors all over the country.
She elaborates about how it is impossible to “…have a good handle on how many people will step up to help during the pandemic,” but the Dundees are optimistic that new partnerships and opportunities will arise despite fewer volunteers and in-person gatherings, both hallmarks of what typically has made their campaigns operate efficiently and smoothly. According to Gracie, SABC has adjusted using calls-to-action on social media and their website. On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, virtual card-making sessions and card-supply giveaways via Facebook helped engage followers and volunteers to create cards that will help people feel less isolated. Hundreds of cards have already been mailed out, making their way to the homes, hearts, and hands of senior citizens.
Love for One (Year) and All (Others)
SABC drummed up warmth, positivity, and permanent change across the globe in 2020, and it continues into 2021. The Dundees’ biggest goal for this year is to reach more people who want to help and who need help than they did last year. We can’t forget this family’s passion for wildlife either, as they are looking to place more animals in homes through fundraising, fostering, sponsorships, and grants. In retrospect, Lauren knows that each month and campaign in 2020 marked new opportunities and SABC’s efforts in 2021 will supply newer and better ways to connect and conquer: “As each campaign runs, we will revise strategies and outreach to create more successful and farther-reaching projects.”
So, what does the early part of 2021 hold for the Dundees? It’s not a far reach from the creativity and community they have managed to encourage since the pandemic began. In February, the “art” of educating and making a difference takes center stage with a project dear to Gracie’s heart. Speaking of hearts once again, the Dundees are hoping to bring life and love to a new venture called “Join Us for Story Time,” with volunteers reading stories over video and spreading the realms of literacy and charity to children through positive content. Stay tuned as SABC’s amazing 2021 projects unfold! There just may be some magic-making and friendship-forming in a time and land not so far away.