MLK Volunteer Event: Creation Station at Bienestar

After months of planning and months of putting it out there to everyone I know that I am looking for donations (I swear I didn't beg!), my co-planner, Tara, and I somehow pulled through with this project we call Creation Station - Family Day, which we hosted at Bienestar, a local non-profit working with very low-income families (mostly migrant workers).

The project was a new idea that we developed, based off an event that Tara attended while on vacation in San Francisco (yes, her family volunteers while ON VACATION!). It was a family fair type event that was meant to teach and empower low-income families while community-building. I believe you can say that we were successful with all of these things!

Our Creation Station had six different stations and goals:
  1. First Aid station: teaching basic first aid, while providing each person with a take-home first aid kit, consisting of an ace bandage, 10 bandaids, neosporin, 3 gauze pads, a gauze wrap, disposable gloves, and some Mr. Yuk stickers. The volunteer at that station spoke to each item and then each child got to put them in a large baggie with their name on it. 
  2. Cards for Kids station:  making cards for kids in the hospital - a great way for families who are normally on the receiving end to be on the other side and feel the joy of giving back to others.
  3. Photography station: most low-income families do not have regular photos taken of themselves, and being a photo-nut, it's important to me to incorporate this when I can. 
  4. Cooking station: Nutritious and easy snacks that they can make from items they probably already have, but don't necessarily think to put together.
  5. Crocheting station: a talent that can live with them for life! I learned when I was young and never forgot. Once you learn, you can easily make blankets or scarves with just a basic stitch! Handy skill to know.
  6. Thank You card station: for our donors. It's important for the families to acknowledge those who gave, and it's great for the donors to receive a handwritten note. 

We started collecting supplies in October, though we should have pushed harder for big donors (lesson learned), we ended up with everything we needed in the end.

This was just half the supplies for the first aid station!
Putting together first aid kits.

Thank you card station-looks busy!!

Making cards for sick children.

Crocheting! I taught so many people!!!

This boy tried REALLY hard for a long time and finally it just clicked and he did it! He didn't want to try to learn any more-just a basic stitch...which meant he couldn't do the corner. So by the time we were done, he had about a 6-foot long chain.
Photo session! These were my crocheting buddies. The mom spoke almost NO english but she spent about 60 minutes with me and we "talked" about different stitches and things we've made. I think I told her that I have made four baby blankets that are at home. Either that or I told her I have four babies at home. Regardless - she was great fun!I did piece together that she was making elaborate crochet pieces and sending them home to her family in Mexico. She even went home and got the patterns she followed to show me. She was awesome!

Chatting it up with some non-english speakers-fun working on my Spanish skills!

Cooking class, messy but fun!
These were awesome snacks!!
A special creation. I'm not sure how this was eaten...

Drawing for the door prizes at the end of the day-we had a crowd of very eager kids!
Can she be cuter? Probably not...

This was so much fun and I have already heard good things from Bienestar. We are hoping to do this again in the future, one time for just parents, another time for just kids. It was a HUGE undertaking and a bit of stress, but it all just came together and we pulled it off!

There were just a few issues, of course nothing is ever perfect, right? The first was the number of volunteers who canceled on me. I called confirm they were attending, since it is a pilot project and we were depending on each volunteer. I have been guilty of having to cancel on a volunteer project in the past myself, everyone does at some point...but I had 4 cancel at the last minute, another person got lost and just never made it, and then another I never heard from at all (I talked to her 3 days ago). Frustrating. It happens. Not sure I could have done more to avoid the no-shows...I did more than I typically do to make sure we were covered.

Another issue in planning such a large project is that we really had no idea if we would be able to get what we needed. Both Tara and I ended up buying more than we probably would have chosen to, but that's the way it goes, right? Remember the backpack project last year, where I had no idea how I was going to come through and then it just kind of happened? I think I need to remember that not everything always works out so smoothly and I need to leave more time to make adjustments to the project, or have a Plan B.

I'm not complaining...just making note that these projects don't just magically happen. There is a lot of planning and stress on the backside.

So what is holding people back from trying? Why aren't more of us out there planning things?
Tara and I planned this project -just two people working together....and we made an impact.

My MLK day was spent living the vision of Martin Luther King, Jr. Every time I hear his speeches, or read his words, I am moved. He was just ONE man who made a HUGE difference in our world.
One person - changed the world. We should all strive to be more like him.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, "Life's most persistent and urgent question is: 'What are you doing for others?'"

Ask yourself that. And then go do something.


  1. I am in awe of your project and your volunteering. Brava!

  1. Brandy@YDK said...:

    You are awesome! You are so inspiring. I'm so glad that everything came together and all those people don't know things weren't perfect.

  1. Denis said...:

    Those tables look really nice! I usually signup more people than required and expect a few to not show. Also when did you remind them of your event? 2 days before is too late. It should be
    5 days at least because at 2 days some people forget and make other plans they can't cancel.

    P.S. The number and complexity of your volunteer events is awesome.

  1. becky said...:

    Kaylen. You and Tara inspire me. Amazing work!


  1. J John said...:

    What an inspiration you are Kaylen! That's just what I needed to read this morning.

    Thanks for sharing your experiences, you've made many people's lives much brighter.

  1. Congratulations! It looks like an awesome time. It's obvious how much time and effort you put into making that happen.

  1. unmitigated me said...:

    Wonderful! Next time, if you are short on donations, let me know, and I'll PayPal you fifty bucks to help out. Really! I love to help with stuff like this. Also, one tip, for the photos, go to a thrift shop and find an old faded bedsheet or fabric shower curtain with a non-distracting pattern, and hang that up for the background. You can even let everyone walk on it, who cares if it gets dirty when it cost a dollar!


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