What a wonderful year it has been at GiGi’s Playhouse! There are so many great moments that happen on a daily basis that I had to take a moment and look back through all the photos which chronicle life here at the Playhouse. As I began looking through them, I was reminded of how blessed I am to be a part of this organization. There are not many places that give me the sense of family and home, but GiGi’s is definitely one of them!
I have had such a phenomenal time with my students this year. Looking back on the year, I think the word that would best describe it would be JOY. The graduation ceremony for Dylan, Stacy, Michael, and Becky was a JOYOUS occasion. I saw the JOY on Quinera’s face when she was able to count independently and she thanked me for teaching her. The participants are full of JOY when we have volunteers come in for special activities. I think my favorite of all is when we go on different trips and volunteer at different places and I see the JOY they bring to others in the community.
Some of my favorite memories came from our community trips. I have special moments with all the participants which are fond memories for me. I will never forget dress shopping at the mall and Stacy yelling at me that every dress I wanted to try on was too short and demanding I put it back, or the time we went to the movies and watched Beauty and the Beast. Michael and I could not resist singing along with the songs. I will never forget Dylan coming up to me after the trip to Sinnissippi to see the butterflies (which I quickly discovered most of the students were terrified of!) and telling me that I made his day and thanking me for being his teacher. The trip to Volcano Falls was where we rode go-karts for almost 4 hours straight, or played laser tag and made it guys against girls. The girls lost miserably because the guys had John, who served time in the Navy, on their team. They still brag about that win. Our trip to Medieval Times was one of my favorites and filled with laughter. I have to remember not sit next to Stacy next time, or she may snatch the flower that was meant for me J. One of the best times for everyone was our fishing trip. I am so grateful there are people like Lt. Givens, who volunteer their time for the Playhouse and want to make memorable moments for the participants. My favorite memory was when he jokingly told Laren that it is tradition to kiss the first fish that you catch and she did! She quickly wiped her lips after that and said, “Ew! That was gross!!”
GiGi U is just one of the many things that happen in the playhouse. I was fortunate to be a part of other events this year, as well. I became the coordinator for the tutoring program and it has continued to be a success! Seeing the participants have success after each session and build lasting relationships with their tutors is something special. Lemonade Days was a great time, even though we got rained out. However, some firemen from North Park Fire Department were there just in time to help us take down our stand and save us from getting soaked! The Lula Roe fashion show was a hit and it was wonderful to see the confidence build in all the participants as they strutted down the runway. The year ended with a wonderful production of The Wizard of Oz that brought JOY to so many people. The cast was outstanding and the friendships which grew between the mentors and participants was very special to see. Holidays and Heroes was something I got to be a part of this year and I was so excited to be there. It was a wonderful surprise when Dylan gave me a gift of Christmas ornaments he had picked out for my children and me. It is a wonderful thing for the Police Officers and Meijer to put together each year.
Thinking back over this past year has brought me so much JOY. GiGi’s is a place I consider my home away from home. To connect with so many families and so many outstanding people on a daily basis is incredible. 2017 was a wonderful year and I know we have some great things in store for 2018!