Summer at Helping Hands

Summer at Helping Hands

First off, I will introduce myself. I am Rachel, Helping Hands’ Summer Recreation Coordinator! In my role, I have the goal of encouraging a sense of joy, belonging, hope and purpose to our Friends at Helping Hands through our programming and special events throughout the summer.

According to Webster’s dictionary, recreation is defined as the refreshment of one’s strength and spirits when they are not working. What many of our friend’s face in the world is hard work. They experience hard, exhausting and trying circumstances that take a toll on their body and mind much like a day of work would, and yet, they do not often get the same access to the luxury of escaping this and finding the space to refresh their spirit and strength. 

As Helping Hands’ recreation coordinator, I cherish the opportunity to prioritise meeting the emotional, social and spiritual needs of our friends and not merely meeting the basic needs. Basic needs (food, shelter, clothing etc.) are vital, but with our mission of being a place where individuals can find friendship-based support, our work goes far beyond meeting physical or basic needs. I hope to further encourage a space for recreation that nourishes the spirit and refreshes the strength of our friends. 

This summer, I am taking time to get to know our friends and what they enjoy. I hope to invite our friends into the planning process as we cater the activities to some of their interests. I hope to invite our friends to help out with outreach opportunities, like helping me to DIY the games for Open Streets in Barton Village on July 16th. I am excited to recreate activities that friends have enjoyed in the past, such as a kickball event in Woodlands park and movie nights with snacks. 

Along this process, I have heard many beautiful stories of ways that our friend’s have been involved in the program planning and found a sense of purpose and belonging from these experiences. In an impact video, one of our friends described the purpose and belonging he found in his time at Helping Hands, particularly at the Board Game Café and he shared that “love and belonging is a human need”. This is the “why” behind friendship based support: to prioritise our friend’s need for community, belonging and love. Recreation is an incredible way to intentionally prioritize friendship engagement.

I enjoy discussing different kinds of recreation to encourage and remind our friend’s of the joy and community that can be found in doing things we love with our friends. We are encouraging friends to find a way to refresh their spirit and strength and creating a safe space for them to do that within our community at Helping Hands.

All the best,

Rachel Stoesz-Ryan

Summer Recreation Coordinator