If you go
What: Family Volunteer Fun event
When: 9 a.m. to noon July 20
Where: Rhodes Jordan Park, pavilion 1, Lawrenceville
More info: Call 678-277-0900 or go to gwinnettparks.com
Dr. Erik Fisher is known to the nation as "Dr. E" for his guest appearances on CNN, NBC and Fox television. But the Lawrenceville psychologist is always willing to volunteer sound advice right here at home for helping parents and children grow closer. One thing he loves to recommend is for families to volunteer together.
"Volunteering, as a family, can teach many positive lessons. When we contribute our time and effort, it helps us to feel better about ourselves, teaches a stronger work ethic, contributes to learning about the world around us, results in us meeting different people and forming different relationships, and provides confidence-building experiences in a variety of different job tasks," Dr. E said.
I wondered how many family opportunities were available in the county, so I contacted Tom Kincaid, founder of VolunteerGwinnett.
"We get requests here for family-friendly activities," Kincaid said and recommended some that welcomed children, including Gwinnett County Parks and Recreation.
Kim Shealy, volunteer coordinator for GCPR, said, "Our philosophy is the younger you start the more likely you will continue. We make sure we have offerings for all ages. We have families that adopt sections of our parks or just regularly pick up trash or stuff doggie doodie bags in the tubes. We host park cleanup days and invasive plant removal days for all. We have giveaways that inspire kids to come again."
Of course the sky is the limit when it comes to volunteering with GCPR, and David Zink of Suwanee really soared with his Eagle Scout project. With his dad Danny's assistance, David designed and built a foot bridge for a section of the disc golf course at Alexander Park in Lawrenceville.
"David scheduled two working weekends for the project, which included about 10 fellow Boy Scout members from Troop 534 and several fathers and Boy Scout leaders. These work weekends were a great opportunity for all of the troop members, scout leaders and fathers to work together," Danny said.
Of his father-son experience, Danny said, "I have learned patience while watching David learn these skills and resisted the temptation to 'do it myself,' and David has shown exceptional perseverance while overcoming the frustrations related to learning these new skills. I feel privileged to be able to have this father-son relationship and believe we have learned a lot from each other."
David has great memories of building with his dad but also reflected on the memories they have provided for others.
"It's really cool to see people actually using that bridge and being thankful for it and also for it's being a good build," David said. "It will be really cool to go back in the future and see it still being used and knowing you did it for the community."
I asked David what he thought of Dr. E's advice.
"I completely agree with that," he said. "And when I have kids, I can do the same thing. Build with them and get to know them better."
Susan Larson is a writer from Lilburn. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.