In honor of National Volunteer Month, we’d like to introduce you to Colleen Goss. Colleen tirelessly serves our children, families and ministry. We hope you’ll find her story as inspiring as we do.
I’m a mom with two grown children. Volunteering became a way of life when I was younger, because of our children’s many activities. When I retired from teaching at Hickman High School three years ago, I knew I still wanted to have an impact on kids. While I taught at Hickman, several students there did fundraisers for Coyote Hill. Once I came to visit Coyote Hill for myself, I knew it was where I wanted to volunteer. These kids will steal your heart.
It was a challenge at first, as most of the kids don’t warm up to you right away. Trust is hard. A friend of mine, who is a teacher, encouraged me not to give up and to just keep reaching out the way we do in the classroom.
There is kind of a funny story about one little thing that helped break the ice for me with the kids. I often bring food, and one time I also had an aerosol can of whipped topping. Before I realized what happened, I accidentally squirted it in a child’s face. We all laughed, and from then on, they always want me to bring a spray can of whipped topping when I come.
I’ll always remember my first hug. It was a from a young man named Keith.* After that, I was definitely hooked, and began visiting Coyote Hill about once a week for an hour or so at a time. If I missed, the kids were quick to ask the next time I came out, “Where have you been, Ms. G?”
In order to get closer to the children, instead of just bringing a meal I started cooking with them and staying for dinner once a month. I ask the kids for their suggestions, and we try to make it semi-healthy. For example, I’ve helped them make egg rolls, roasted vegetables, mac and cheese, individual pizzas and homemade ice cream. It is a crazy fun time!
My daughter comes along with me when she’s home from college, and in the summer of 2018, we branched out by taking the Hubbell Home to the West Broadway Pool in Columbia and hosting a mani and pedi night for the girls. Then in the fall, I hosted dinner for the “Girls on the Run” group at my house, and hope to again this spring for the next group of girls who are participating in that race in May. At Christmas, my husband & I took them to Warm Springs Ranch to see the Clydesdales, and out to eat at G&D Pizza. I just try to think of new experiences for the kids that we can help them enjoy.
I feel very strongly that no child should feel unloved. Every child deserves our time. I also feel that anything I can do to help the home parents is very important. They really have their hands full, trying to love on a houseful of kids 24/7. Raising our own biological children is no easy job but raising children from hard places brings with it many unique challenges. Yet I find that the kids at Coyote Hill are no different than my children were. They just want someone to talk to and someone who is willing to spend time with them.
I have so many wonderful memories from my time at Coyote Hill. Volunteering there is very rewarding and special. I just love the staff, parents and most importantly, the kids.
“She helps with events and does all she can to introduce new people to Coyote Hill and get them involved. She will bake cookies with the kids so they can share them with new guests. Currently she is tutoring one of our girls, after Keith, the young man who stole her heart with that first hug, left Coyote Hill. She didn’t let his departure end her connection with him. She found out where he was and kept calling until she was able to speak to him personally. She wanted him to know that she cared for him and would always find him, no matter what. She sent balloons for Keith’s birthday and took him to visit a grandparent. It’s wonderful to witness Colleen’s heart for each child.”