SCANStar: Meaghan Morris

It’s volunteers like Meaghan Morris who make our ABCs of Parenting Class a special experience for the whole family. While parents are engaged in lessons with class facilitators, their children spend time with Meaghan and other volunteers who teach lessons on correlating topics, engage in meaningful conversations, have fun and provide a supportive, energetic ear to both kids and their moms and dads. (Did we mention kids also get to enjoy yoga and help prepare a healthy meal thanks to partners YoKid…Stretch Your Limits and The Regal Fig Food Co.!?)

We are so grateful for Meaghan and the other volunteers who truly make these classes so successful. They are changing lives and strengthening families every time they volunteer! Don’t forget to check out past SCANStars to meet more of our dedicated volunteers, program participants, and program facilitators who help us build hope for the children and families in our community.

BuildingBlocks: How long have you volunteered with SCAN, and what have you done as a volunteer?

Meaghan Morris: I have been a SCAN volunteer for almost 2 years as a lead teacher of the kids ages 5 and older at the ABCs parenting classes.

BB: Why did you decide to join SCAN as a volunteer?

Meaghan: After getting a job with the government in DC, I realized my life consisted of only work, gym, and social events. I have always volunteered or taught/tutored in some capacity and realized that was missing. I looked up Spanish-speaking volunteer opportunities on volunteernet.org and came across SCAN. After meeting with several of the SCAN employees, I became aware of what a great organization it is, and promptly signed up!

BB: Describe your favorite SCAN memory.

Meaghan: Choosing just one favorite memory is impossible – there are just too many. I’ll pick two: The first is a memory of a parent of one of the kids in my class. The parent approached me after the final celebration of the last class and, having never spoken to me before, told me that the relationship between the parent and the child had matured and improved so much since the beginning of the eight-week course. The parent thanked me for having worked one-on-one with the child on several occasions, attributing much of the child’s success to our classroom activities. It was a very rewarding and happy conversation.

The second memory is of a conversation we were having in our classroom one night, when one child began describing a difficult home situation. Another child, having little to no experience with any disruptions in his/her home life, expressed concern and confusion at the classmate’s story. Before I could jump in to redirect the conversation, all the students in the class began to open up and tell their own home stories, comforting each other in their own way. It was a safe, open space for conversation, all created by the children themselves.

BB: Why have you continued volunteering with SCAN?

Meaghan: I believe in SCAN’s mission and have seen first-hand over and over again the benefits and positive outcomes of the ABCs of Parenting class. It would be worth it to help out even just one parent or one child, and to know that hundreds are reached each year through the program is just incredible.

BB: Has anything about being a SCAN volunteer surprised you?

Meaghan: What has surprised me on numerous occasions is when a parent or child approaches me to let me know that a conversation or action that we shared really changed their perspective on things and helped them move the relationship with their family forward. I have learned that seemingly standoff-ish parents are often just quiet or shy  are often the ones who get the most out of the class. I have been surprised on numerous occasions by parents that seemed uninterested in the class who then approach me and let me know that SCAN has meant so much to them and their families.

BB: When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? What do you do now?

Meaghan: I was always interested in the world, and in global events as I got older. I studied international affairs and now work at USAID – U.S. Agency for International Development – whose mission is to support long-term and equitable growth across the globe through programs in economic growth, agriculture, trade, global health, education, humanitarian assistance and conflict prevention. I am currently a strategy analyst in the Program Office for the Asia and Middle East Bureaus.

BB: What was your favorite movie when you were a child?

Meaghan: Anything Disney! (Not much has changed since then…)

BB: If you were given a free flight anywhere in the world, where would you go?

Meaghan: I would go to Ireland and Italy where my families are from.

BB: If you had to eat one food for the rest of your life, what would you choose?

Meaghan: Pasta or Ice Cream!

BB: What is something most people wouldn’t know by looking at you?

Meaghan: I have a humongous family and am very close with each and every one of them. I also LOVE kids!

Adventures in CASAland…+ Fancy Free Tuesday!

Navigating the ins and outs of the court system, families, teachers, doctors and all the people involved in a child’s life can be daunting, but we recently had the opportunity to celebrate someone who makes it look easy – Ann Caulkins, one of our CASA Program staff members.  Ann volunteered with SCAN’s CASA Program for 5 years before she joined our staff 10 years ago. Since then her advocacy has touched the lives of hundreds of children in the local court system because of abuse and neglect.

Last week SCAN had a party in her honor. In case you weren’t there, we wanted to share some pictures with you (take a look below…)

Quite the crowd came out to celebrate Ann – CASA volunteers, staff and board members. Here's Ann being congratulated by SCAN founder Dave Cleary.

The party's theme was Adventures in CASAland, so there had to be an Adventures in CASAland board game…and here’s Ann examining herself as a board game piece…she has really “arrived” now.

Here’s another long-time CASA, Sabrina Black, and CASA staff Dana Taylor trying to find their CASA children safe and permanent homes in the Adventures in CASAland game – Dana looks like she may have won this round.

At the end of the evening, Ann shared some of her thoughts about what keeps her going and her appreciation for all the volunteers and staff and community members she works with who help her really see the impact our work has…thank you again, Ann. We couldn’t do it without you!

FANCY FREE TUESDAY:

Wait, Tuesday!? Yep – that’s right. We’re doing a very special giveaway early this week (instead of our usual Fancy Free Friday). That’s because the big giveaway is THREE REDSKINS vs. Steelers tickets for the game THIS FRIDAY, August 12th, plus a parking pass!

How to enter to win? Simply comment below with your own favorite memory about volunteering – OR your favorite memory with Ann over the past 15 years – and you’ll be entered to win.  Comment AND subscribe to the blog and you get an extra entry!

We’ll announce the winner first thing Thursday morning…so you have plenty of time to pick up your tickets at the SCAN office before the big game.

SCAN