Shahree Douglas & Family

A typical Saturday for Shahree Douglas is anything but relaxing.

As a busy wife and mom to sons Anthony, 16, and Miles, 2, Shahree spends her weekends running between swim class for Miles, working on school projects with Anthony, spending time with family, and prepping food for the week.

Despite their busy schedules, the Douglas family makes giving back a priority.

When Shahree adds volunteer opportunities to the family calendar, there is no pushback from her husband or teenage son. In fact, when Anthony learns of an upcoming volunteer project, his first question is: “What do we get to do this time?”

In February, the Douglas family decided to volunteer with United Way’s Warm Winter Wishes Family Kit Packing event, held on a Saturday outside of Boston Store at Brookfield Square Mall. Shoppers were encouraged to take a few minutes out of their busy day to assemble breakfast bundles for families living in transitional housing.

To make the bundles, volunteers packed a giant mug with the fixings for a healthy breakfast, playing cards, conversation starters, and notes of encouragement.

Shahree and her family had a great time packing bundles, a task the whole family could help with. “It was wonderful. It really gave us a sense of family, but also of community,” says Shahree.

“It’s an amazing teachable moment when families take the time to volunteer,” says Jayne Thoma, Vice President of Volunteer Engagement at United Way. “When I see a family truly enjoying this moment together, I am confident that these kids will volunteer again and again.”

In 2016, United Way volunteers contributed more than 30,000 hours of service to the community. Many of these volunteers were families, who chose to spend their valuable time together packing kits, serving meals, helping older community members with yardwork, and much more.

Shahree hopes that volunteer experiences like this will have a positive impact on her children, particularly her teenage son: “Sometimes the help we give is for the people we interact with every day. I want Anthony to understand that we are very fortunate, and that the kits we packed may be going to a kid he sits next to in school. You don’t know what anyone goes home to.” 

“As a parent, you want to give your kids the best learning opportunities, and those often come from family and the values you put forward,” says Shahree, “for us, giving back to the community is a responsibility. We may not always have the money to give, but we can always find the time for the things that are important to us.”

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