Viewing Service as Life
Mar 12, 2020 02:41PM
By Daisy Hutzell-Rodman
The Wolfe pack does something many families envy these days—they sit down and eat dinner together nearly each night.
“It’s not as though we have an hour,” said father Chris Wolfe. “Often it is about 15 minutes. We go around the room, and everyone talks about their favorite part of the day.”
It’s a fast 15 minutes, as the family includes Chris, mother Jaime, and eight children ranging in age from 13-year-old Ryan to Maisyn, who turned 1 on Jan. 24, 2020. The important part, however, is that they focus on family and positives in life, important values to Chris and Jaime.
Chris, an optometrist, works side-by-side with his father, Steven S. Wolfe, who founded Exclusively Eyecare in 1989. He enjoys being able to be part of a family-run organization, which allows him time to see patients and spend time with his own family.
The Wolfes belong to St. Wenceslaus Catholic Church, and six of the eight children are students at St. Wenceslaus schools. (Maisyn and 4-year-old Benton will attend when they are able.) They have been sharing their family stories, and their faith, through a YouTube channel over the past two years.
“I really wanted a YouTube channel,” Ryan said. “For my birthday two summers ago, I got one.”
While the sisters on channel babyteeth4 (who have 959,000 subscribers) post candy reviews and toy videos, and the 9-year-old who goes by EthanGamer (and has 925,000 subscribers) plays video games for viewers, Jaime was insistent that Ryan’s channel reflect their family’s values.
“She said she wanted it to be Catholic-appropriate,” Ryan said.
“I wanted it to have a good message,” Jaime emphasized.
New media isn’t new to the family. Chris runs a podcast on Eye Code Media, a channel set up specifically for optometrists and ophthalmologists. He helped Ryan figure out how to post. Ryan has since discovered she enjoys editing.
The channel has been showing the family’s participation in a giving project. Last fall, the kids participated in the Archdiocese schools’ annual “Shine the Light on Service” challenge, for which they created and submitted a video outlining what they would do to help others. The Wolfe family decided on 20 days of giving—spending one month doing good for others. The clan did not win the $1,000 prize to help initiate the challenge, but they have instead taken on the project as a family.
Although they started with 20 ideas, in the end, the five oldest Wolfe children chose one project they were passionate about, and the family has been going through these projects. Lincoln, who turned 12 in early January, chose an animal-based service project.
“We went to the animal shelter and brought green beans and marshmallows for the dogs,” he said. The family delivered donations of food and toys to Promise 4 Paws, which takes in older dogs.
Logan “Lolo,” who will turn 7 in May, chose a project called “Take Time to Read.” The family bought books off of Amazon during winter break, which they donated to the St. Wenceslaus School’s library.
Camryn, or “Camy,” who will turn 9 this May, chose to donate items to Children’s Hospital & Medical Center. The Girl Scout enlisted her friends. The scout troupe went caroling over the holidays, and Camy asked them to bring items before they went caroling. The result was an outpouring of coloring books, board games, and art supplies to help those staying at Children’s Hospital & Medical Center find a bit of fun in their lives.
Ryan chose to make a meal for a priest. She cooked enchiladas one night and they took them over to the parish priest’s residence.
Paityn, 10, has not completed her day of giving yet, but she knows what she wants to do.
“I want to pay for someone’s meal,” she said. “You know, like in the drive-through, or just at a restaurant when they don’t realize it.”
The second word was the operative one.
“These kids want to do stuff for others,” Chris said. “A lot of it has to do with the fact that their school requires service, but we think it’s important, too.”
“It’s easy for Chris and I to make a monetary donation to somewhere, but the kids never see who benefits from that,” Jaime said. “In a lot of ways, we’ve been blessed with opportunities and we want the kids to make sure they know that.”
And with the YouTube channel, it will be easy for others to see how the Wolfe family has made an impact on others’ lives. At many of the family service events, Ryan was there with camera in hand. Videos on the site include the family taking supplies to the dog shelter, library, and Children’s. Other videos include a VSCO girl music video the sisters put together for fun, and a video of the family taking a hike up a mountain, looking for signs of God along the way.
Visit YouTube.com and search for Walking Angels8 to see videos of the Wolfe family.This article was printed in the 2019 Summer Camp Edition of Family Guide.