There are times when the phrase “thank you” can feel like empty words: acknowledging a held door, or someone allowing you to go past on a narrow street. Quickly spoken, and soon forgotten.
But “thank you” is more than a simple acknowledgement of a service rendered. Those two words also convey an emotional response to someone’s generosity, and it’s quite hard to fit everything we mean into such a small phrase. We have so much to say “thank you” to our volunteers for, that the words don’t quite go far enough.
Last year, our volunteers gave up 1700 hours of their time to support local families in crisis; providing a lifeline of support through times of isolation and loneliness, frustration, grief and anxiety.
Can the words “thank you” ever be enough for this extraordinary group of people?
We didn’t think so!
So, we put our heads together with our fabulous Poet-in-Residence, Jude Simpson, to create a unique (and uniquely Home-Start) way of showing just how much we appreciate our volunteers.
How big could a “thank you” be?
Jude wrote a whole series of poems, some light-hearted, and some more serious, which captured in text the gratitude and amazement that our volunteers inspire. Our steadfast supporter, Lois, kindly provided some exquisite illustrations to go with each poem, and local printer Hay+Rice put it all together into a little booklet.
Then, on 29th September, we invited our volunteers to a celebration event in their honour. Held at the Coombes Community Centre in Royston, the volunteers and trustees were provided with tea, coffee and a selection of homemade cakes at our “Volunteer Thank You” event.
As part of this special occasion, the booklets were presented to each volunteer, and all the guests were treated to a screening of a very special video (put together by Eleanor McCrone, video editor at Mill River TV), featuring the staff team at Home-Start and the creative team behind the booklet. The video tried to express, in ways that aren’t always easy to do in person, just how important our volunteers are to us.
Although Jude wasn’t able to be present at the event, she was very much with us in spirit, especially when two of the poems from the book were read out by one of our amazing volunteers, who completely captured the essence of the poems in her readings, to great applause.
Our volunteers do so much for us that really, there isn’t a way to completely show how much we appreciate them. But the “thank you” booklet, and the event, offer a little glimpse of just how big our thank you can be.