Some of you know of my penchant for volunteering. I've never thought that makes me better than the madding crowd, except as far as it could improve me as a person. I was raised to believe in giving to charity, and that money is sometimes less valuable than time. I've volunteered at a slew of places:
- the Library---my 1st volunteer job. I spent 10 hours a week at the library in high school when I realized colleges would look at crap like that on my application. I suppose I just could have lied & they'd never have checked up on it, but I kind of liked shelving books. (This may be why people still think I look like a librarian when I wear my glasses.)
- Dismas House---a halfway house where some college girlfriends & I would cook once a week, until one of the residents absconded with the cookware we'd been using. That was depressing as hell.
- The Crisis Center---a volunteer-staffed, local, 24-hour hotline for people in dire straights. I'm just not sure that the people calling were the ones who really needed or wanted help, or if they were happy to be crazy. I hated working overnights, especially when I didn't know my partner for the shift.
- Various one-time events for charity---races, registration tables, holiday fundraisers, you name it. No bachelorette auctions or 3-legged races, please.
- Dress for Success---a great concept: helping women get clothes & skills for interviewing. In my current company, we have new hires come in to work in the medical field and if they're not in scrubs, they don't seem to know how to dress themselves. "Businesss casual" isn't as self-explanitory as I always thought it was.
- House of Mews---more fun bleaching cat bowls and litter pans than I'd ever thought to have in a morning. It's very hard to get on their schedule, so if you want to go, you'll probably have to go to Tom's Town instead.
- Mpact Memphis---the best way to mingle with people outside your homogeneous group who are still like-minded in many ways. I used to be really involved with them, for several years, but a while ago it changed. It wasn't people looking to explore the city & make it better; it was people all out for themselves. Like Paul said:
I don't know... it's nothing against the group, nothing at all. But I just stood there among all the "young professionals, 21-40" in their plaid button-down shirts and their neatly-pressed khakis and their nice shoes doing their "networking," and quite honestly, I was bored. "Young professionals" can be so stuffy when they get together in a group. They usually wear "business casual" attire to events like these. Some wear suits. Because I have the personality to pull it off, I can get away with jeans. But it bothered me that I put on long pants of any fashion on when it was 100 outside, in an attempt to fit in and impress people that I really didn't care about impressing.
He's right; it got very uppity. I dunno, maybe it's better now than it was. I went to an event they had last month, and it was great---a great speaker (Ekandayo of Hatiloo), good subject (black rep theatre), wonderful concept (we watched 10 mins. of rehearsal). Plus I got to see several of the folks from back in the day & had an interesting conversation about Memphis race relations with a transplant from Brooklyn.
Now I have a new volunteering gig with my swing dance group. They are letting me help out as I learn the ropes of a few of the more basic dances from the 20's, 30's and 40's. It's a steep learning curve, as I never had any dancing lessons in my childhood, and know little to nothing about partner dancing. I will persevere: In fact, I'm going to my first bootcamp this afternoon, one dealing with swing moves & alternative music (that is, non-traditional, non-swing stuff).