Deborah Smith began volunteering with Connections Individual and Family Services in 2018 when she offered to help with birthday celebrations for the youth in the agency’s emergency shelter. Serving as the “birthday lady” allowed Deborah to learn more about the unique circumstances faced by the residents and to help advocate on their behalf. After discussing shelter needs with other individuals, Deborah decided to establish a chapter dedicated to Connections. Through her previous philanthropic work, Deborah had grown her volunteer group and felt confident that she had enough individuals to focus solely on Connections
Over the past few years, this dedicated group of volunteers have brought joy and a small amount of normalcy to the lives of children who have experienced intense trauma. Through monthly workshops, regular shelter visits, and birthday deliveries, Chicktime has offered consistency, reassurance, encouragement, and love to youth who needed it the most. Chicktime has also repeatedly recognized shelter staff and the contribution they make in the lives of youth residents providing much needed relief, peace and comfort during times of chaos. While the COVID-19 pandemic limited facility access for Deborah and the Chicktime group, they continued to provide support from afar. Youth and staff received regular deliveries of crafts, meals, treats and words of encouragement. These small acts of kindness were critical since so many of our youth felt isolated and anxious. We are so grateful for their support and look forward to their regular visits resuming very soon.