It was another great return to Renaissance Village yesterday to see the children. It was a special day too since they were going to celebrate Cynthia's birthday. The hot afternoon, blazing sun, and near end of the school year made for a great release.
We first stopped to talk with Mary at her trailer about the photographs that she wanted taken that day. She handed me a good handful of shorts and t-shirts for the kids since they'd be getting some time in the water sprayers that day. When Grace and I entered the kids' trailer while they were getting pizza handed out by Ruth, a good number of them jumped out of their seats and ran over to share hugs. I can always count on hugs when I see them again. :) They really just were so excited about this "fun Friday" as they requested some clothes to change out of their school uniforms. Once they were geared up they couldn't contain themselves from running outside.
Outside they were all so free and happy running through the water sprays. I knew that they were so into it when only a couple of them asked to use my camera. I'm usually deluged with requests, but today was definitely different. They really didn't hesitate though to offer a number of photo shoots for me as they played. This was only their second time in the water and I'm sure with the hellish summers here there will be plenty more.
While hanging back a bit and watching with Mary, she told me something incredibly cool. The day before Paul Simon visited the center in order to check out how things were going with the visiting mobile medical units. I had seen the large blue RV's in the Village before, but I didn't know much about the program. Paul Simon is the co-founder of The Children's Health Fund that provides medical services to those without access to care. Mary says the services are very valuable and the doctor is really wonderful with the children and the families. She also said that it was great spending time with Paul and knowing that he cares. (You know, if I'd watch TV and American Idol I probably would have known about all of this already. ;) )
After a good amount of water time, lots of laughter, and hootin' and hollerin' it was time to clean up and head out. Timothy, who really helped me recover my lens hood which had been thrown out accidentally, asked "You coming back?" as he ran towards the trailer. I said yes next Friday and he put his little hand in a fist saying "next Friday" as he continued moving. I smiled knowing that being counted on is so important. Thank you Timothy for your help and that feeling.
*Note: Today I asked Mary about sharing the children's photos on this blog. The families had signed a release form included in their enrollment in the after school program. Since I am not using the images to gather funds for any other cause, it is okay. Please be aware of this when you are sharing the images with others. Thank you.