If you follow any of my posts on social media lately, you’ve probably noticed an increased number of post about volunteer experiences. In the last two weeks I’ve participated in two experiences in the Memphis area. Two very unique and different experiences but both opened my eye to a lot of things.
But to understand how I got myself involved in these experiences, I first have to go back to February 2013. Scott and I were new to Memphis and wanted to meet people. So I google Theology On Tap and found an event happening in Memphis. It featured Volunteer Odyssey founder Sarah Petschonek. She told her story (which I encourage you to read on the website) and then called all of us to consider finding somewhere to volunteer in Memphis. Well me…I was honestly more interested in meeting people. After Sarah’s presentation I went up to her (basically attacking her) asking for her contact info. I said I wanted to do a story on her efforts but I also wanted to go for drinks and get to know more about her and her non-profit.
Little did I know that would mold into a friendship that share a lot of common passions. Since then I’ve participated in four volunteer opportunities, been connected with so many other people in the community and now serve as a board member for Volunteer Odyssey.
So, rightfully so I wanted to do some volunteering to get to know more about the non-profits we work with and experience what our bloggers do. Volunteer Odyssey gives a person 7 days and 7 non-profits. Following each experience they write about their time; what they learned, observed, experienced and felt. It helps connect them with the community and gives them a chance to stand out in the job market, while giving back to this great city.
So as you can imagine, my love for storytelling, combined with a love for helping others…seemed to be a perfect harmony of “I need to get involved in this.”
Last week I spend the morning in Fayette County with Project Outreach. They help provide resources to low-income families. This time around it was school supplies and we had a wonderful time handing them out to families. I think my favorite part of the day was hanging out with the kids on the playground that volunteers built. It’s the only playground within MILES of the area. For many of the kids it was their first taste of a park or playground.
You can see in this photo it was a lot of fun. I think it’s hard to tell who is having more fun, the kids or me. 😉
You can also see a video of the experience here:
Tomorrow you’ll be able to read Ann-Katherine’s blog on the experience.
This morning I got up early and went to St. Mary’s soup Kitchen. It’s based inside St. Mary’s Catholic Church and every Monday-Saturday morning they serve food to the homeless. When I got there at 7:15 I was amazed already at how many people were already there and waiting for food. I think all too often people forget about the homeless or those in need. Because it’s easy to get caught up in our lives.
Anyway, that experience was great and I was happy to see such dedicated volunteers doing such a wonderful thing for the neighborhood.
For me, all of these experiences allow me to see God in all aspects of life. They challenge me to see God in EVERYONE and EVERYTHING and they really put life in perspective.
So why I am doing all this? Well I’ll be honest with you, for me it is a great chance to get to know the community and a chance for me to give back. But honestly I think I learn more from the people I meet then they’ll ever learn from me. I’ve enjoyed the last few weeks and I’ll likely continue participating in these experiences. I figure if my days off are Monday and Tuesday I might as well make the best of my time and get to know my new home.
And with that I’d encourage you to do the same. Take some time, reach out to Sarah, see what might be a good fit for you. Whether it’s a whole week at 7 different places or just a morning or afternoon helping with a specific event…your involvment in YOUR community can go a LONG way.
We choose our own paths, we choose to make a difference in others lives and our actions today can CHANGE the world tomorrow. Choose to make a difference and choose to make it now!!