Executive Functioning + Volunteering

“Executive Functioning + Volunteering”

written by Mary Ulmer-Jones, Pebble Tossers Board of Directors, Associate GC & SVP Bank of America

Shelter in Place provides us the time and energy to focus on meaningful things.  It is meaningful to me that Pebble Tossers has given my son a platform to practice executive functioning.  Jamie is a junior in high school and was diagnosed with attention deficit disorder in seventh grade. At the time of diagnosis, I didn’t worry too much. But, what I realize now is that I underestimated the impact ADD has on the brain’s ability to utilize executive functioning.

The ability to take an assignment and break it down into orderly, actionable steps is a critical skill that we all need. For instance, if you are planning a dinner party you make a to-do list that flows in a logical order. Upon completing each task, you will then be ready to host a successful dinner party. But, if your executive functioning ability is impaired by ADD, you might get overwhelmed by hosting such an event. You may forget to pick up flowers for the table. Or even worse, you fail to properly sequence the cooking of your side dishes and entrée. Oh Lord, your meal isn’t put on the table until 11 p.m. That is a result of your executive functioning not being fully developed. But, good news, if you practice executive functioning you can develop this skill to its fullest extent.

So, back to Jamie and Pebble Tossers. It took me until this spring to recognize that Pebble Tossers provides me the opportunity to help Jamie practice executive functioning.  From the Pebble Tossers website, Jamie chooses the organization he wants to support or the project that he wants to complete.  Together we read the service opportunity description.  Then we write down and verbally discuss each of the steps Jamie will need to accomplish to complete the service successfully.

For example, Jamie has provided meals to Kate’s Club on a regular basis. Now, let’s practice executive functioning. First, determine the menu. (sandwiches, chips, cookies and fruit) Second, decide how to shop for the items on the menu. (Amazon delivery, Publix, Walmart for paper products) Third, set a timeline for shopping. (Place Amazon order a week or so in advance, go to Publix and Walmart one day after school) Forth, set aside time for preparation of the lunches. (over a two or three-day period assembly line style prep on the dining room table, use the basement fridge to store the sandwiches, use old Amazon boxes to package the lunches for delivery) And, finally, deliver a complete meal on time for as many as one hundred Kate’s Club clients and volunteers. (leave for Kate’s club at 9:30 am Saturday morning so the meals are delivered by 11:00 am.)

So, thank you Pebble Tossers for giving me this opportunity. And, thank you Shelter in Place orders for giving me time to reflect on what is really important.



Share Love with Fragile Children

Nate is a sweet special needs child in the fourth grade. Unlike his older brother, he has trouble verbally communicating. Unable to hold a conversation, his speech is typically limited to 1 or 2 short sentences. This makes it hard for him to make friends. “We tried keeping him in regular classes,” his father said, “but he didn’t adjust very well. He needs special attention.”

Special needs students are wide-ranging. Some have physical disabilities you can see, while others might be sight or hearing-impaired. Other kids might struggle with anxiety, or have a learning disability like dyslexia, ADHD, or autism. Special needs children might find it hard to do typical tasks like reading or getting around. Making friends can also be difficult for them. Socialization can be a challenge.

We can help share love show love to children with special needs by helping them to be more independent. We can also simply being their friend and take or showing a special interest in them the things they enjoy. Spending some quality time together is extremely valuable.

How Your Family Can Help:

– Get Involved with Special Olympics Georgia
– Volunteer with Sunshine on a Ranney Day
– Donate to the upcoming Focus + Fragile Kids Silent Auction

What is the kindest thing you can do for someone with special needs?

Live in the Joys of the Season

Joy is defined as a feeling of great pleasure and happiness. This holiday season experience the joy of service with Pebble Tossers. Volunteering brings the joy of serving others, the joy of connecting with your community, the joy of personal development, and the joy of spreading the holiday cheer this season. Many families in crisis experience hardships making this time difficult to find joy. When people face a crisis they are unable to adapt to, they desperately need a support structure to help them cope. Having an army of people ready to serve means the world to them. As we celebrate many holidays with our community, we hope to empower you and your family to get involved and make a difference!