Mary Hill Dobbs, a resident of Odd Fellow-Rebekah Home, would most definitely fit the description of a "hidden gem" in our community. Mary has worn many hats over the course of her life time: daughter, mother, educator, counselor, columnist and author. She has been a committed and long-standing “volunteer” for our Generation-2-Generation program. We had the blessing of sitting with Mary recently in hopes she could share her perspective on our mission to “equip people for works of service.” Please enjoy . . .
When the children from Generation-2-Generation come here, it is important to understand we are impacting our very neighborhood in developing future leaders. Anything we can do to encourage our children is essential. I know I won’t be here to meet these future leaders, but my grandchildren will be!
I was blessed to have parents who instilled great values. Most of my values come from my mother--put others first; don’t think God has authorized you to judge others; love teach and cheer; give anyone the benefit of the doubt—are just a few. My father instilled the importance of education into all his children. While picking cotton and hoeing tobacco, he quizzed us on each of our state’s capitols. Yes, we worked hard in the fields, but we were always learning!
As I think of the work being done through Generation-2-Generation, I recall Mother's “heart-generated” actions she instinctively lived out on a daily basis. Love, teach, share. . . that is what I see happening each time the children come to visit us! For one hour, we get to express love by the cards and crafts created; we get to teach and learn from one another; and, most importantly, we get to share our presence in a safe, loving place. "Every day is better when I meet with them! I could just take them and hug them all day long!"
After each group of students boards the bus, I realize just how very much I enjoyed each child! It makes me think of the quote that hangs on my door:
We are like a box of crayons.
Each one of us is unique.
But when we get together. . .
The picture is complete.
They complete my day!
Generation-2-Generation reflects yet another value my mother modeled for us her entire life: “you can accomplish many worthwhile things if you do not find it necessary to claim credit.” We were taught you “don’t do things for rewards. Let the fact that you have been given eyes to see and abilities to fulfill the needs of others be your reward.” For instance, I literally have eyes to see because I was given the gift of corneal transplants. Each time the children visit and we share and exchange in conversation, I hope in some small way they understand the “good things” they are doing--right here, right now--can and do matter! As the photos have depicted, I honor these young creators by hanging their artwork on my door and walls. In fact, one framed piece of artwork sits on my desk along with photos of my family. They have inherently “given” to me and the other residents because of their presence. What a beautiful “lesson” to “teach” the youth of our community!
In one of the Generation-2-Generation visits, the children are read a book called “Same, Same, But Different.” A great book that dwells on how we are more the same than we are different. The children are asked to think about this, then draw or write ways we are the same or different. What great artists! What great minds. On occasion, I sometimes share with the children my experience of growing up in the South during segregation. My parents did not believe in segregation and made sure we understood that “if you prick your finger with a needle, we all bleed red.” The picture that hangs on my wall is called “Caroline”. She was a black lady in our community who took in white people’s laundry to wash and iron. . . for pennies. Caroline has no face in the painting because she “didn’t matter”. However, my parents raised us up to SEE beyond the color of one’s skin. I often ask some of the staff at OFRH if they ever experience this nowadays. Sad to say, they admit they do; and for some, it’s a weekly occurrence.
As an educator and farm girl, I understand the value of “life’s lessons” learned while cultivating the soil in preparation for a successful planting and harvest. I love planting seeds with the children as they gather around my table. Who knows what impact a simple statement might have: “We just might have a future doctor or lawyer standing right here at this table.”
The children are so open and honest and share from their hearts. Again, I think of something my mother taught us. We should always give everyone the benefit of the doubt and never take offense by others actions or words because “we cannot ever fully know what another person is experiencing within.” I have no way of knowing what their little minds or hearts have experienced. But, for one hour, I can listen to them, encourage them, and simply find joy in who they are—right there; right now.
Postscript by Cheryl Lee: Sitting with Mary was MY blessing! I could have sat there for the rest of the day! She blessed me with her time, stories, and HER BOOK, “The Steeple’s Scroll”!
She signed it: “To Cheryl, I have learned from you. Enjoy!"
And, I will. For those who might like to read Mary’s book, here is a link to purchase it: Amazon.com. And, I’m pretty sure Mary would love to sign your book for you.