ELLEN BRINGS FAMILIES TOGETHER IN HELENA


Wow, the last few months have been crazy! I’m really loving Helena; it’s such a tight-knit place. At the end of November, I organized a “Family Dinner” night. The Family Dinner Project is an initiative working to help busy families have more frequent and meaningful dinners together. Over 50 people showed up for fun, food, and family time!

Wow did this dinner go well! We had so many people that we ran out of a few things, but everyone ate their fill so I’m putting that down as a success. It was really encouraging for me to see so many people come to this event.

Part of The Family Dinner Project process is to facilitate discussion among parents while their kids make dessert. We had a great conversation about what they feel like their family does really well during dinner, as well as the challenges they face (in case you’re curious, picky eaters and lack of time are the big ones!). Then we brainstormed solutions. It was great to see parents’ creativity when thinking of ways to get their whole family to the table for dinner. If I ever have kids, I will definitely use some of their ideas!

For dessert, I recruited volunteers to help the kids make pudding for “dirt cups,” which consist of chocolate pudding topped with any fruit or sweet treat imaginable (always including gummy worms, otherwise it’s not dirt!). When they were done with dessert, my awesome volunteers played red-light-green-light with the kids. Everyone definitely had fun (I might be a bit jealous)!

While it was difficult to plan, I loved coordinating the Family Dinner. I had amazing people supporting me, and it was wonderful to see them come together to serve others who are often overlooked. It was also fulfilling for me to listen and validate the experiences of families facing difficulties, while also giving them access to resources and sustainable solutions that they didn’t have before.

Ellen Harris
Montana No Kid Hungry-PRC AmeriCorps VISTA
Helena, MT