Teaching virtues: Classes and service projects abound in East Sacramento

A group of about 20 young children ages 3 to 6 presented Happy Tails Pet Sanctuary with a check of $115 on Thursday, Oct. 17 after making money selling lemonade from a stand at East Portal Park for just one hour a few days beforehand. The children all attend a Virtues Class taught by Elmhurst resident Melody Fananapazir and as a part of the curriculum, they have to act on what they learn. After they handed over the check, they were quite eager to learn about and play with the cats at the shelter. Photo by Monica Stark

A group of about 20 young children ages 3 to 6 presented Happy Tails Pet Sanctuary with a check of $115 on Thursday, Oct. 17 after making money selling lemonade from a stand at East Portal Park for just one hour a few days beforehand. The children all attend a Virtues Class taught by Elmhurst resident Melody Fananapazir and as a part of the curriculum, they have to act on what they learn. After they handed over the check, they were quite eager to learn about and play with the cats at the shelter. Photo by Monica Stark

Learning about human virtues can be a lifelong journey, one that has begun at quite an early age right here in your neighborhood.

A group of about 20 young children ages 3 to 6 presented Happy Tails Pet Sanctuary with a check of $115 on Thursday, Oct. 17. Selling lemonade from their stand at East Portal Park for just one hour a few days beforehand, the children learned first hand how their good deeds help others in need. The children all attend a Virtues Class taught by Elmhurst resident Melody Fananapazir and as a part of the curriculum, they have to act on what they learn. So after they handed over the check, they were quite eager to learn about and play with the cats at the shelter.

Leading a tour of the facility, a volunteer started fielding questions from the little ones right away.

“Do you know what name they had before they came to the shelter?” one child asked.

“Sometimes we don’t know what names they had, so we give them names,” she said. “One of them came into the shelter named Lance, but I changed his name to Lou because he looks like a cow. He’s black and white. He’s so sweet and he eats too much food,” the volunteer said.

As the children walked through the different cage free cat rooms, they learned the names, personalities, how to gently pet them and the importance of using hand sanitizer when entering and leaving each room.

After many pets, hugs and kisses to the cats, the children made felt toys for them as parting gifts for their new feline friends.

Four-year-old Ayla said she enjoyed petting the kitties, noting, that, “Grandma Linda has a kitty named TJ.” Asked about what she liked about working at the lemonade stand, Ayla said: “cupcakes!” to which her mom Angie Keefe piped in to help with the interview, asking “What about the cats?”

Photo by Monica Stark

Photo by Monica Stark

A light bulb went off in Ayla’s head: “Oh yeah!” she said.

The Virtues Classes are like a Sunday school held at someone’s home and under the guidance of the Baha’i faith, yet, anyone from any religion can come and learn about thankfulness, helpfulness, and compassion.

Even though the lessons are Baha’i, coming from a Catholic background, Keefe said from the virtue standpoint, “it connects to how anybody would be, or should be.”

To Keefe, her daughter’s ability to understand the connected nature of the class with all of its three main elements – learning about a virtue, performing an act of service, and then connecting it all by visiting a shelter – is amazing for her young age.

Keefe found out about the Virtues Classes through a friend of a friend. “It’s been good. We’ve been talking about something like this and Melody has the whole set up. I just come and do what I can to help.”

Fananapazir started the curriculum 12 years ago when she was living on the East Coast. Here now for about three months, Fananapazir said she loves living in Sacramento and it has been one of the easiest transitions her family has made. “We have been having a real positive time. My husband can walk to work (at the UC Davis Medical Center). The weather is really nice. It’s a great fit for our family,” she said.

“I just find that it’s great to see the support of all of these families. They are supportive and open and easy to get to know. They’re down to earth and it’s nice to start these friendships with everyone. It all happened really naturally,” Fananapazir said.

For those interested in the Virtues Classes, email Fananapazir at melodyaf@hotmail.com

editor@valcomnews.com

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