whole-heart-ed/hōlˈhärdəd/ adjective :showing or characterized by complete sincerity and commitment.

There were a couple of inches of snow on the ground. In many parts of the country, especially my home state of Texas, we’d all have been at home. No work, no school, maybe just curled up with a hot drink and a book. But in Milwaukee, two inches just gets you a reminder to give yourself extra time to get where you’re going and to be safe on the roads. I am so thankful that this is the way of life in Milwaukee because I found the next best thing to curling up with a book: sitting down with a little kid and a STACK of books.

That’s right. On March 3rd, the staff at Brilliance Business Solutions all arrived at Next Door Foundation to participate in their Read with Me! program. We all had the opportunity to step away from our morning routine of checking emails and work meetings, to read one-on-one with 2 – 5 year-old children for a couple of hours. Next Door, on North 29th Street, has many early childhood education programs, but also a library filled with classic and more recent kid books. In 30 minute sessions, we each sat down with a little one and a stack of books and read aloud and, for me, expressively. The room was abuzz, as it was filled with adults and kids, all reading and learning together. Before each group of kiddos was paired with an adult, they all sang an incredibly adorable song about reading in the library.

In addition to providing an awesome library and early childhood education, Next Door is also able to give their students FREE books to build their libraries at home. These books arrive as donations from various sources, so sometimes they are in need of cleaning and repair. After our reading sessions, we had the opportunity to assist in the book donation room. Getting these books ready for a new home was not difficult, but it was a bit time consuming, which is where our roles as volunteers became super valuable.

At Brilliance Business Solutions one of our values is: wholehearted. Meaning: We value each other as whole people, living authentic lives including our spiritual lives, family lives, and work lives. We believe the most creative companies are those that allow people to be authentic to who they are.

A natural extension of this authenticity is service to others. As a team, we carve out time each quarter to serve others in the community of Milwaukee. The little ones at Next Door will probably not remember us individually, but the work of Next Door will set these kiddos up for a better future and perhaps they’ll decide to read to a little one in their life, when they get older.

If you would like to volunteer at Next Door Foundation, please visit their website, learn more about what they do, and get in touch with someone about their various programs.