RTSC at Visions of Community
By Elaine Arsenault
The Visions of Community Conference is always a wonderful opportunity for staff of the Reruitment Training and Support Center (RTSC) for Special Education Surrogate Parents (SESPs) to meet new people and spread the word about this important initiative. The Conference is populated with parents and professionals who, due to their own experiences, possess a wealth of knowledge about special education laws and procedures. These are the best volunteers for our program.
At the RTSC table, Recruitment Specialist Jean Willoughby and Project Associate Danielle Hardin gave out roses to active and potential volunteers as they distributed information about our program. The flowers, a perk from RTSC, provided an ideal conversation-starter with potential volunteers. Other perks included 20 partial conference scholarships for SESPs, and a designated space to network during the lunch break. For those who already knew each other, it was a great opportunity to catch up.
Behind the scenes, RTSC Project Director Renee Williams organized conference childcare. She had families fill out applications while organizing the volunteers who provided care for the 33 children. Janie Crecco and I had the pleasure of checking in children and meeting the many diverse families. Parents coming from all over the state said they were happy to have a place for their children to go while they attended workshops. One pleased mother emailed afterwards writing:
“We are really impressed; what a wonderful crowd you have caring for our kids: emphasis on care! Our kids really enjoyed their company. I feel like they actually made some new friends yesterday! I saw lovely snapshots when I entered the room for checks and pickup. They were both relaxed, engaged and chatting easily with caretakers that were “all in” and engaged themselves. They were not just being watched; they were being befriended. That’s big on a sped moms list. My boys received sweet warm attention; very generous; so pleased!”
At the end when the children were leaving a few told me they had a great time and were sad to leave. One tearful little guy ran over and gave me a great big hug telling me he wants to come again next year. I said, I look forward to it!