By Megan Schreiber Willman
|A Home of the Innocents volunteer plays with one of the residents.|
As I drove onto the Home of the Innocents’ sprawling campus at 1100 East Market Street in Louisville, I admit I was surprised by its size. I had heard about this agency in bits of conversation over the years but I had no idea about the range of services they provided. When I expressed this to Julie Spry, volunteer services manager for Home of the Innocents, she smiled and explained my reaction is a common one. “I hear that a lot. People assume we are only in the business of helping neglected children.” And although that’s true, Home of the Innocents also offers other services such as parenting classes and convalescent care for kids who are too sick to stay at home. Last year alone, the agency served over 7,000 children, parents, and families.
Volunteers are needed in many areas (check them here), but Julie said there are a few programs that need more attention at this time: Kosair Charities Pediatric Convalescent Center (KCPCC), the Residential Treatment program, and the Cornerstone/After-Care program.
- Through KCPCC, Home of the Innocents offers a home-away-from-home to medically fragile children whose care needs extend beyond those which their parents can provide. Volunteers serve as companions and friends to these children by reading to them, playing games, or just offering a hand to hold. An activity schedule is distributed to volunteers each month so that they can select what they’d most like to do with the children that month. Within KCPCC, volunteers aged 13 and older are welcome.
- The Residential Treatment program, housing 50 to 60 children at a given time, provides a safe space for children who have been removed from their homes, often due to abuse or neglect. These kids, aged 8-18, need help with reading and with their homework, but they require much more than that. “These children need a chance to build trust and know that someone cares for them. The sky is the limit in terms of what a volunteer can bring to the table. I tell volunteers to think about what any typical teenager might enjoy and to bring that skill to them,” Julie explained. In addition to the help with schoolwork, some examples of recent volunteer activities include a class on skin-care and make-up application, exercise drills taught by a group of firefighters, pet therapy, and art therapy classes. Volunteers in this area must be aged 21 or older.
- Home of the Innocents offers peer support groups for parents called Cornerstone. During their group time, volunteers are needed to provide childcare and activities for the kids. There is also a meal provided to the family on these evenings. This opportunity is available to volunteers aged 13 and older. Cornerstone takes place every Tuesday.
|This resident spends some quite time in her room.|
Although Julie encourages interested people to check the website, she points out that volunteer needs change often. Better information can be gleaned by contacting Julie directly at 502.596.1031 or you can send her an email.