Award-Winning PCHAS Volunteer Arlene Hamilton Brings Nutrition Classes to the Waxahachie Single Parent Family Program

Arlene Food Prep Full

One of the main objectives of the PCHAS Single Parent Family Program is to not only give the single mothers and children who enter the program a place to live, but to also give them the support and the resources they need to move forward in life. PCHAS volunteer Arlene Hamilton is helping the moms in the Waxahachie Single Parent Family Program by hosting nutrition classes in the homes twice a month. These classes give the mothers a chance to cook together and share a meal with the other families on campus, while also learning important lessons about health and nutrition.

Arlene has been a PCHAS volunteer for two years and became a certified Texas Master Wellness Volunteer in January by the Texas A&M Agrilife Extension Service. The class is a huge success, and in March, Arlene was named the Agrilife Extension Service’s Better Living for Texans Volunteer of the Year. “The import thing to me is not an award that I received, but what I am able to do for the moms and their children. That is my reward. I don’t know if they realize how special they are to me. I am extremely proud of these mothers and am honored to have the chance to get to know them. I look forward to seeing each and every one of the moms and their children go on to do amazing things,” said Arlene.

Arlene started volunteering for PCHAS several years ago. “After volunteering for the Single Parent Program for some time, I felt I could use my skills to benefit these women by teaching them healthy eating habits. When I found this program, I knew it was a perfect match for the mothers and me. We pray and eat together and then the moms and I discuss topics like budgeting, planning and cooking healthy meals, and developing healthy eating and exercise habits. We all sit around the table and enjoy ourselves while still teaching and learning.”

ready to eat_web

Each class is centered on a different subject or theme, and Arlene takes suggestions from the moms. She asks about foods that they grew up with or want to learn how to make.

One time, a mother picked up a turkey at the food bank but did not know how to cook it. She wanted to share it with the other families. “We held a class and I taught them how to clean, prepare and cook a turkey. Each of the mothers prepared a side dish and we all celebrated a Thanksgiving and Christmas-themed dinner together. We had such a good time and the meal was delicious.” said Arlene.

The moms and the children living in the homes love the class. It is a chance for them to learn important life skills, but most importantly it is a chance for them to interact with one another — sharing stories, swapping recipes and building a community. They also support one another.

“The moms come from different walks of life but they have in common: they want the best for their families. These are some of the hardest working women I have ever met and they are also the most compassionate. They have gone to hell and back, but find time to support one another. They care for each other’s families as much as their own.” said Cyndi Fuller, the Waxahachie Single Parent Residential Program Supervisor.

Cyndi says that she knows that the moms are going to be successful. “Most of them found themselves in situations that were out of their control, and all they really needed was a safe place to live and grow. Thankfully a program like this is available to help these moms and their children. I am so grateful to be a part of their support system and am happy to make a difference in any way I can,” she said.

we're ready

To find out more about volunteering for PCHAS,

visit http://texas.pchas.org/volunteer/becoming-a-volunteer/

 

By Lindsay Sloan