I didn’t know what I signed up for when I wanted children.

Yesterday, motherhood had turned me into a political activist. I am not thrilled about this.

My 12-year-old was placed in our middle school’s coveted leadership class, and she is one of the only four 7th graders in the class. In order to earn an “A” in the class, a minimum of 25 hours of community service is required for each 10 week quarter. We quickly realized that this is a daunting task, simply because all reasonable places we contacted did not want free service from a 12-year-old.

Sacred Heart Community Service was the one exception in our area. They provide free services, food, and clothing to the poor. Sacred Heart allows middle-schoolers, except an adult volunteer is required to chaperone the young volunteer.

We duly attended the orientation a couple of months ago, and have been signing up for two hour slots after school to volunteer together.

Either one of us looked forward to work these two hours. You shouldn’t blame us. Because my daughter is only 12 and new to this organization, we are only allowed to work in the warehouse, where the work is the most boring, and the two hours seemed forever long. But, we are the kind of people who are willing to do anything for an “A”. Well, almost anything…

Yesterday, we went in for our 2 hour slots.

We were immediately surprised at the number of volunteers in the warehouse and out in the public area. They usually don’t schedule that many volunteers to show up at the same time. We had been told that most volunteers aren’t allowed to work in the public area.

After spending a long hour, pouring bags of donated clothing into the large bins, and digging through them to sort them out according to guidelines and hang them up on racks, the warehouse supervisor walked in with an exciting announcement.

“Today, at 4 o’clock, we have a different activity for those of you that want to do something different.” he said to the whole group.

“Like what?” asked a teenager standing behind me.

“You can go to our courtyard for the next hour. You will just be drawing some posters and listen to stories.” his answer.

My 12-year-old and I immediately looked at each other with big ear-to-ear grins on our faces.

“Who wants to go?” the young supervisor asked.

I raised both my hands. I did.

Soon, a small army of us gathered and followed him through internal hallways to an outdoor courtyard inside the compound.

Our eyes all seemed to be draw to the table of refreshments set up on a row of tables that lined one side of the courtyard.

“Are we allowed to eat these?” a few young volunteers asked in giggling voices.

We were told to go to one of the tables that are set up with posters, color pens and markers, glues, scissors etc.

We sat down on a table with another mom and her young daughter. That’s when I turned and saw the sun lite corner of the courtyard with the podium and microphone, and behind it a BIG banner with “Immigration Reform” on it.

Oh! They didn’t mention anything about that.

Another staff walked over to us. She gave us very specific instructions on making the poster. They were also copies of the instructions written in English and Spanish on our table.

The other mom and I proceeded to gave our young daughters step-by-step instructions to make the poster.

In the mean time, more and more volunteers filed in, and people began to step on the podium to tell us stories in Spanish and in English. I heard clips of the speech about living in this country with fears of being caught and deported.

As the four of us worked on the posters, a camera man approached us and began to film our table. This put me ill at ease. I pointed at the two of us and politely told him that we prefer to not be on their camera. Surprising me further on this day, he did not stop.

A second camera man came to our table to shoot, and I decided to surrender to his cause, and did not protest.

Half an hour had passed by, our table’s two posters were completed. The four of us sat there and waited for the time to pass.

The staff walked over to us, leading another group of 3 young volunteers. She asked us to vacant the table, so they can make posters.

“Okay. What do you want us to do with our posters?” the other mom asked.

“Any minute now, the media people will come. They are supposed to be here at 4:30. When they arrive, we want you to hold your posters and just stand in the middle of the courtyard.” she flatly stated.

SHOCKED out of my wits. I gasped and stared back at her with my eyes popped out.

“When the press people arrive. We want you to hold your posters up and stand in the middle of the courtyard.” She felt necessary to repeat these same instructions to me, then walked off onto other volunteers.

I took in the scene once more, and saw the place predominately filled with volunteers. All wearing the same blue boarded white name stickers as us, mostly teens probably from local high schools and colleges here to fulfill their community service obligations.

A small political rally

I could feel my anger boiling inside my head. I was angry with Sacred Heart for using us, innocent volunteers, as tools for their political agenda!

It didn’t matter if this rally is for or against Immigration Reform. We did not go there to appear on the local evening news as activists for any political cause. I was mortified with the idea of appearing on the local news like some psycho mom who would take her young child to a political event on a perfectly sunny and warm Wednesday afternoon holding signs, and perhaps chanting slogans.

I put down the poster on a table nearby. Then said to my 12-year-old, “We are not here for this. We are leaving right now.”

I walked out of the courtyard quickly, with my 12-year-old running behind me, “Why? Can I get some strawberries first? Or how about the lemonade?”

“No! The news people are coming.” I quickened my steps.

“Why?” 12-year-old.

Inside our car, I had to explain to my 12-year-old that Sacred Heart had deceitfully tricked us into participating in their political event. And that is a real shame.

After driving in a few minutes of silence. I recalled something pleasant…

“Remember a couple of months ago, you found a 3 hour long volunteering job planting trees with a group?” me.

“Yeah.” the kid.

“See if you can find these people to go plant trees with them again.” me.

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