Volunteers & Valentines: Couples in the Playspace-Horizons For Homeless Children

Volunteers & Valentines: Couples in the Playspace

Some couples cook together, others love to go for walks or binge a Netflix show. Some couples volunteer together. This Valentine’s Day we wanted to spotlight the couples in Horizons’ Playspaces, who, every week, head to a shelter together to make the lives of children experiencing homelessness a little bit better.

Ed McLaughlin and Nancy Scanlan began their relationship 12 years ago on Valentine’s Day. Both retirees, Nancy and Ed have been PALs together since October 2018, first at a Playspace in Dorchester, and now in a Playspace at a shelter in Mattapan.

Ed, a letter carrier for over 30 years and Nancy, a former federal agent, were looking for something rewarding that they could do together.

“At home, we’re so busy, going in a million different directions that we don’t get to do a lot together,” said Nancy.

“I’ve seen Ed with friends’ grandchildren and he is amazing with them and one day I just thought to myself, there have to be kids out there that could use someone like Ed in their lives. Kids who really need someone they can just laugh with and have fun with.”

Nancy saw a flyer for Horizons and quickly knew it was what they had been looking for. Nancy told Ed, they both registered for an orientation, and now the team is one of Horizons’ most dynamic PAL duos.

“It’s so rewarding. You feel like you did something good,” said Ed. “And it’s nice to share that with someone so close to you.”


Talking with Ed and Nancy you can feel their enthusiasm for volunteering. They bounced ideas for crafts off each other and shared how they couldn’t wait until spring when they could get the kids outside on the playground.

“We like to talk about what we might do with the kids the next week, “said Nancy. “Although it rarely is what we planned because at the end of the day the kids choose what they want to do,” she added laughing.

Allison and Adam Baker are Easthampton residents who have been PALs together in Holyoke for three years. Adam is a Vice President at a bank and Allison is an Admissions Director at an assisted living facility, both with busy schedules and a desire to carve out time to spend together. Like Nancy and Ed, the Bakers chose volunteering at Horizons as a way not only to spend more time with one another, but also to do something rewarding at the same time.

“We both work long hours and volunteer with other organizations so we don’t get to see each other as much as we would like,” said Allison. “Volunteering together for Horizons allows us to spend time together while helping out; it is a win win for us.”


Adam and Allison agree that they would encourage couples to volunteer together. They added that in addition to being fun to volunteer with your spouse, they are also a great person to rely on during a shift when challenges arise.

“It’s a great feeling to be able to lean on Allison during a shift. If we have more kids than usual, Allison can tell if I am getting overwhelmed during a group activity and helps me out. It makes for such a fun dynamic in the Playspace,” said Adam.

As seasoned PALs, Adam and Allison are passionate about the impact Horizons’ Playspaces have on the children who attend them. They both gushed about the positive and warm environment the Playspace creates for kids who are going through such a challenging and uncertain time.

“Also, we want to have kids of our own soon so it’s good practice for us,” laughed Adam.

Don’t have Valentine’s Day plans? Grab your valentine and register for one of our upcoming PAL Orientations here.

This post was written by Rachel San Giacomo, a regular contributor to Horizon’s blog