Volunteering = Mood Changer

Working full-time, it is hard to find time to volunteer for organizations I want to give back to. After a long work day, sometimes you just want to go home and kick back. That was my day today. I was tired, my allergies were driving me crazy – itchy eyes, sneezing and I didn’t want to volunteer.

I am a person though when I make a commitment, I am going to follow through.  I get ready and walk down to the Goodman Community Center. Taking the short walk on this beautiful day instantly boosted my mood, and by the time I got to the doors of the Goodman Center, I had an attitude shift.

Tonight was their Family Fun Night – a free event for the community including a  BBQ dinner, games for the kids, and a special theatrical performance by some of the children.

I helped with registering the families. Taking down their name, ages of the children and the school they attend. Rough estimate I would say we had around 500 adults and children attend tonight. By the time everyone was through, we ran out of almost everything!

It was an amazing two hours filled with laughter, smiles and a great event bringing our community together!

Next time you commit to something and don’t feel in the mood:

1. Go – because as a fellow volunteer manager, nothing is worst than having volunteers back out last-minute.

2. You will surprise yourself in how giving back is an instant mood changer.

 

Soulful Sunday!

What a perfect way to end the weekend by volunteer a couple of hours for the 2017 Sunflower Days in Verona.

If you have never been, I highly recommend it.  First it is free (but I encourage you to make a donation at one of donation stations) because this 9-acre sunflower field with over a half million sunflowers in bloom is breathtaking!

I got there at 6pm and had time to walk around the field and take some pictures (along with hundreds of other people) and then at 6:30, I reported to my post.  I met some really great people from the Friends of Pope Farm Conservancy who handed me my yellow vest, radio and put me at my post. My role was to direct the traffic to the lower field, and if that filled, direct to the hay field.

Parking cars can sometimes be a challenge based on a few that don’t listen to your directions, but I am happy to say everyone was so friendly and had this carefree energy. I contribute it to the sunflowers.  Looking at a sunflower makes me happy, can you image what half a million will do to your soul? I also love it when people acknowledge that you are giving back. A simple, “thank you for volunteering” means the world to us all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

People ask me all the time how I find out about volunteer opportunities.  This opportunity I discoverer through a volunteer interest group that I am a member of on Meet Up. If you are new to a city or looking to “meet up” with people of like minded interests, I highly recommend signing up or start your own meet up group.

What a great way to start off my work week…. Sunflowers, fresh air and giving back! Hope your Sunday was as soulful as mine!

Final Two Days in India!

We left our hotel at 9:00am and headed to our last fort of the drive – Mahrangarh Fort.  We pull up to the park area, and who do we see, but they guys from Swiss and Chile.  Seriously, this is now getting weird – Amberee starts talking to them and turns out they went to the restaurant we were going to go to last night, and then we never showed. That’s sucks, it would have been fun to hang out with these boys. 

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I started talking to the guy from Switzerland (we never did get their names) and he asked were I was from and I said, American and I live in Wisconsin.  He asked where in Wisconsin and I said Madison.  He asked me if I know Kohler and I said yes. Turns out he works for a company that works with Kohler and he was in Kohler, WI a couple years ago for a week. Small World!!!

We left the fort and loaded back in the car for the six hour drive back to Jaipur. We got back to Jaipur about 4:30pm. Plenty of time for Emily to catch her ride at 6pm to Delhi to fly home that evening. The week of travel was amazing but so exhausting from so much driving time. It was good to be back at the house.

While we were gone three more people came. John, from the US (Illinois). This is actually his 4th time back. He is retired and was spending a few months traveling around India.  There was also a women from France and from Canada. We had a full house for dinner that night. 

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After dinner Luna, Olivia and I walked around the shops near our place.  I wanted to get some silver plates and cups like the ones used in India.  Luna knew of a shop not far from our house.  I guess I never explored the shops near our house and there were some really cute ones.  I got my plates and we also stopped in this super cute cup shop where Olivia and I bought little cups that are perfect for tea. The shop owner was the cutest older Indian women. It was a very nice last night out exploring.

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Today, Friday January 6th, was my last day in India. It was bitter sweet.  Everyone by 9:00am was off to school and Amy, Nina and Olivia went to Hyper City (the mall).  I stayed back at the house by myself to pack up and took some time to reflect back on my time.

 Everyone was home by 1pm and Puni made a wonderful last lunch with all of us together.  Luna, Amberee, Amy, Nina and Olivia after lunch were getting ready to go to the market and I saw them off and we took selfies outside by the tuk tuk and Shakeer’s brother joined us for pictures.

 I will miss those five young ladies. I knew I would probably be one of the older ones in the house, and I was by 15-20 years. To be that young and going on a journey of this size is huge. They are very brave. They all have such a positive spirits and good souls. The nice thing about social media is we can stay connected and I look forward to following them through their life and see the positive impact they continue to have on this world.

I was picked up by my driver to take me back to Delhi at 3:45 and got to the airport around 8:30pm.  My flight time was Saturday at 00:45. Thank goodness all on time. I landed in Toronto at 5:30am Saturday, next flight to Chicago was 7am and now I am on a bus home to Madison.

Final Reflection: 

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Travel is an amazing thing. It is good for the soul to experience other cultures and it is exciting to meet and make friends with people all over the world. Travel also makes you appreciate more of what you have in your life back home.  I am very blessed in my life to have a great family, amazing friends, and the means to travel…… what more do you need in life? As I said when I started this journey, Wisconsin is my home, but the world is my playground! 

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Riding Camels!!!!

We got up at 6:30am to leave our hotel by 7am to see the sunrise over Gadisar Lake. There was too much fog, so we couldn’t really see the lake, but it was still very beautiful. We get back to the hotel and have breakfast on the rooftop. It is amazing how cold it is in the mornings and then things quickly heat up by mid-day. It was nice sitting with your warm chia, looking over the city with the chill in the air and waiting for the fog to burn off.

Our next stop was Jaisalmer Fort. It was like a city within the city. People lived there and the fort walls and nooks and crannies were filled with street vendors selling their crafts. Amberee, Nina, Emily and I went to one of the rooftop restaurants in the fort, and had amazing chia, while again taking in the city views.

We went back to our hotel and before we left town we stopped at Patwa Haweli. It was a museum preserving the history of Indian life and culture. We stopped at few market places, but I think at the moment we were shopped out.

Next stop the desert. We get to our basecamp and we all chill after the long car ride with chai while our guides are getting our camels ready for us. Our guides tells us they are ready and the six of us walk out to meet our camels. My camel was named Babaloo. He seemed a little feisty. The guide helps you on with you putting your foot on a strap to hoist yourself up and swing your leg over. The guide then has you lean back, as the camel gets up on their front feet and then lean back as they get up on their back. I must admit it is a little scary at first. Once on the camel, all those years of riding horse when I was young came in handy. Squeeze at the knees and hang on to the horn.

Our guides walked about a mile into the desert to watch the sunset over the sand dunes. Once we got to our spot, we dismounted and we sat and just enjoyed the amazing view. A guy with a motor bike drives appears like a mirage and he has chips and beer. Of course you have to buy. It was surreal. Sitting in the desert, eating chips, drinking a beer watching the sunset next to your camel. Once in a life time opportunity for sure.

Once the sun set, we got back on our camels and we headed back to base camp. My guide had Babaloo break out into a bit of a run on the way back. Lets just say riding a horse is a much smoother ride. Once back to camp, we sat and enjoyed live folk dance and music. The music got done about 8ish and then we had dinner back at base camp. There was two other groups in our camp as well. A husband and wife couple, and then two very attractive guys, from Switzerland and Chile traveling for a bit together.

We had the option of sleeping in huts at the basecamp or sleeping in the desert. You only live once, so we all opted for sleeping in the desert. When would you have that opportunity again. Our guides loaded up a cart full of blankets and we crawled on top. I was the first one up, and I fell backwards off the mound of blankets and my head ran went right into the ass of the camel. The guide caught my balance before I fell off. We all climb aboard including “Rambo” (our driver – we call him this because of his Army jacket he wears most days). Our guide walks us out into the desert. We get to our spot for camping and guide said, cold night, sleep right on sand to stay warm. Pictures from other groups we saw, there beds were a bit off the ground. Nope not us, added to the adventure. Our guide and Rambo, cleared a spot in the sand and started putting down all the blankets and pillows for us to sleep on.

 

Thank goodness I put on lots of layers, so once under the blankets I did start to warm up, and once you lay on your back and look at all the stars laying on the hard sand and being cold is all worth it. I never saw so many stars. We even saw a few shooting stars.

In the middle of the night, I had to pee so bad. I got up from my warm sand cocoon I made for myself, and use the light of my phone to walk over to some bushes. The sand was so deep and hard to walk in and I must admit, it was a bit scary walking in the desert in the middle of the night, but when nature calls.

The only thing that dampened the time was Emily complaining. She was complaining about the cold, but yet, she didn’t put any extra layers on like the rest of us. She just had on a thin jumper and a cardigan. Then she complained she couldn’t sleep because of my snoring. She knew I snored, so she shouldn’t have slept next to me. The rest of the girls all slept. Complaining and negativity I think is part of who she is. She complained or had a snarky comment about most things on this trip. She’s young, 24, I think, hopefully later in life she can look back on this journey and learn from it. Life is to short to go around pissing and moaning all the time and in a different cultural setting such as this, you have to be flexible.

We wake up the next morning and the top layer of blankets is soaked. It is so weird. It didn’t rain, it was all wet from the morning dew. It was so beautiful watching the sun come up over the horizon, again, once in a life time opportunity.

Our guide loads up all the blankets and bedding back on the cart and we load up again back to base camp. They have hot chia tea waiting for us which is just perfect. We have a light breakfast of toast, hard boiled egg and banana. The rest of the groups are getting back too and look about as rough as we do. Sleeping in the desert is not for wimps! We talk to the cute guys for a bit and learn about where they are from (Switzerland and Chile) and then we load up again for the drive to Jodhpur.

India – 2 / Jody – Zero

New Years Day we left for our week of travel. I must admit, I was a wee bit hung over from our roof top celebration the night before.

It was such a fun time. We had a fire on the rooftop and a case of beer and we played music and then at midnight Pranay came up and we lit off fireworks. These were not your little fireworks either! After we got done, it looked like bomb went off on top of the roof.

We arrived in Pushkar and checked into our hotel. The hotel was beautiful, but the bathroom totally stunk. I can’t figure it out, in all the hotel bathrooms they put these white balls in the sink, like the things you would find in a mens restroom urinal and they stink like that too.

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We freshened up a bit and then went to this place for lunch. It looked like a decent place. Nice outside tables and chairs. We all ordered different food and when they came, all the sauces looked the same. Olivia found paper in her food. I am not sure if was being hung over, or the food (I just ate my nan and a few bites of my paneer) but I was not feeling good.

It was not a good time to not feel good, as after we walked to the market in Pushka. This was one of the biggest markets and people, cows ands motorcycles everywhere!!! I thought I might have to get sick at one point and I went into this public toilet and I had to walk right back out. It was so disgusting and it was a squat toilet. I was not about to do that in that place. I did manage to get all my shopping complete for gifts for people and while I was standing at a booth, waiting for some of the other girls to finish up, I got rammed in the front of my thigh by the head of a bull. People all around me, and that sucker went in for a direct hit. I am really surprised I don’t have a bruise on my thigh.

We all shopped until we were about ready to drop. We got back to the hotel and I was so tired and all I wanted was a hot shower and bed. The rest of the girls went out to eat and I decided to hang back. Besides having an icky feeling tummy, I was starting to get a cold. I go to get in the shower, and it is ice cold water. This is normal in India, so you just have to let it run a bit, nope, still ice cold. I washed up best I could and I was so stinking cold after that shower I had on three layers under the covers. By now it is only 7:30pm, so I planned to just get warm under the covers and connect to the free hotel WIFI and check out everyones New Year plans since it was not even 2017 yet back home. WIFI wasn’t working for me either….. I just decided to call it a night. India – you got me on this day!

Monday, January 2nd –

I was feeling much better today especially after 10 hours of sleep. We had breakfast at our hotel and then we were on the road by 9am. We had a 9 hour drive ahead of us to Jaisalmer. We stopped in Jodhpur for lunch. but the place looked a bit sketchy. I ordered nan – can’t go wrong with just bread. Back in car we go.

imageWe get into Jaisalmer about 6:00pm, check into our hotel, freshen up, and then we go to eat. By this time we are all starving because we hardly ate anything for lunch. The place we went to was called Junction Palace. They had a nice roof top restaurant but it was quite chilly so we ate inside instead.

After dinner, we came back to the hotel to call it a night. I as so looking forward to a hot shower since I didn’t get the night before. Turn on the water – IT’S HOT….. but only for about a minute. Looks like another cold shower for me! You got me again India!

Last day of School

Friday, December 30 – Last Day of School

Today was my last day of school with the kids. It was bitter sweet knowing that I wouldn’t see these sweet little faces anymore. When I was in Africa five years ago, I brought a pair of new TOMS Shoes and I had the children I worked with write on my shoes, pictures, their name, scribbles and they are something I will always treasure from that trip. I did the same thing for this trip. I ordered a new pair of cream TOMS and I had Amberee translate to the older students that I wanted them to write their name or general words in Hindi. My shoes look amazing. I simply love them.

As we wrapped up the school day and we got back in the tuk tuk, it was hard not to get sad as you see all the children running after you “Bye Dee Dee” “See you tomorrow” and they wont.

We came back to the house and at 1pm, a new girl arrived in the house. Amy is from Melbourne, Australia and is a teacher. She is here for the four week program. While she was dealing with her lost luggage, the original five of us went to Hypercity Shopping center in Jaipur. Yes, they do have malls here.

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We walked around and I got a good coffee from Cafe Coffee Day (the “Starbucks” of India.) Olivia got a new kurta and I got a new shirt and scarf for the week of travel.

We came back to the house around 6pm, and then I just vegged out for the rest of the night, trying to prep and repack for our week of travel starting on Sunday.

Here is our itinerary:

Sunday – Leave to drive to Pushkar at 9am (4 hour drive), check into our hotel and then have rest of day to shop at the markets.

Monday – Drive to Jaisalmer from Pushkar (7 hour drive) and arrive around 5pm and visit Jaisalmer Fort and markets.

Tuesday – Visit to Gadisar Lake and site see in Jaisalmer and Patwa Haweli and then we drive to the desert. At 5pm we take a camel ride and have dinner, live folk dance and music and we sleep in the desert that night.

Wednesday – We leave early and head to Jodhpur for sites seeing and markets.

Thursday – Travel back to Jaipur and arrive home around 6pm.

Friday – At 3pm they take me back to the Delhi airport and then I fly out Saturday at 12:45am.

This morning, we had another new girl come, Nina. She is from California. It will be Amberee, Emily, Olivia, Amy, Nina and myself going on the week of travel. Luna already did her week.

Tonight is New Years Eve and we will be having a celebration on roof top with food, drink and fireworks.

As I reflect back on 2016, its been a year of lots of first – My first half marthon (and only), my first trip to India and still so many first in Madison as I am going on a year and a half living there now.

Cheers to 2017!!!

Sites of Jaipur and More

Wednesday, December 28:

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Emily was still not feeling great on Wednesday, so she stayed home again from teaching school. Thank goodness Gopi was there to help me again when they got a little wild. We got there a little early, and all the kids were seated on a blanket and Gopi was having them stand up and was looking at their hands and talking to them in Hindi. I asked Luna what was going on and she said he was looking at their nails and had them smile to see if they had clean teeth. If no, he would send them to the sink house to wash up.

I started with the alphabet and then broke it down into words. I am finding they are memorizing the alphabet, but when you ask some of them what letter it is not saying the entire alphabet, they don’t know. I tried to work one on one best I could with some that I saw struggling.

During play time, a truck came to fill there water tank so that added some extra excitement to the day. Next we went on to work on math skills. Some of them are really bright in knowing there numbers and how to add. Again, I tried to work one-on-one but it is hard when they are all trying to get your attention, yelling “Dee Dee” – which means Sister. That is what they called all of us.

Drinking our chia in the textile shop.

Drinking our chia in the textile shop.

After school we had lunch and good news was Emily was feeling better and food and water was staying down but continued to rest for the day. Olivia, Luna and I had Shakeer pick us up to do some shopping. He is so sweet, we get in the tuk tuk and he had mini bottles of special perfume he had made for each of us. It smelled so good. He also had a box of sweets for us. (An Indian dessert). We wanted to go to the market and he said he knew of some places to get nice textiles not the tourist shops. He took us to a textile place and the shop owner reminded me of Danny Devito. He made us all chia tea and then he showed us all sorts of samples for pants and kurta (India style shirt). We got to pick out a fabric we wanted and then they measured us, and were hand making them and will be delivered a day later. I got a pair of pants and a kurta hand made for $28 US dollars! Olivia also got pants and a beautiful scarf made for her on site. Both her and Luna also tried on sari’s. Very beautiful.

Next stop Shakeer took us to was for jewelry. We went to a shop with real silver and stones. I picked up quite a few gifts for family and friends.

By this time it was almost 7pm, and Shakeer took us back in time for dinner. After dinner, we just chilled out and I was in bed by 10pm. I can’t believe how tired I am at the ends of some of these days.

Thursday, December 29:

Emily was feeling better and was able to join the rest of us teaching today. Hard to believe this was our second to the last day. It’s exhausting when you are there, but then when you leave, all those sweet voices “dee dee” “Bye” “See you tomorrow”. I just hope my week I spent with them will impact their life in some way. Two of the students, in just a couple days, I have seen actual improvement in their math skills. I write addition tables in their note books and have them answer, and when they come up to show me, if all are correct “good job” and I put a smiley face on there paper. They really want to please and do a good job. Some get mad when I tell them they have a wrong answer, but I try to explain and use my fingers for them to count, and then once we figure it out together, then “good job”? I say yes, “good job”.

We had Shakeer pick us up again after lunch and we headed to some sights based on his recommendation. First up was Gaitor – it is the marble cenotaphs of the Kachhawaha kings enclosed in the walled garden just below Nahargarh Fort. It was beautiful, and if you climbed to the top of one of the buildings, you saw an incredible view of the city.

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Our next stop was Panna Mian ka Kund built in the 17th century by a eunuch Panna Mian, a leading figure at the court of Raja Jai Singh.

We finished up our night with a quick stop to take pictures of the Jai Majal, or better know as the “water palace” and stopped at a few markets.

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Made it back in time for dinner at 7pm, and now all of us are just cleaning up a bit because there are two more girls moving in on Friday. Can’t believe tomorrow is my last day at the school.

100 pints for 100 years!

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Have you ever been a part of something that made your heart feel like it was going to burst, it was so full of love? This is the only way to describe how I felt when I saw the pure joy and emotion on the face of Blanche Baudhuin on Tuesday, March 8th.

What happened on this day you ask? Friends, family, strangers, and the community came together to accomplish an amazing act of kindness all centered around this special lady. Blanche is a 40 year volunteer with the American Red Cross. March 13 was her 100th birthday. What better way to celebrate than by hosting a 100 unit blood drive in her honor.

I talked to her about this idea back in December when I stopped by one Saturday for a visit. I said, “Blanche, what shall we do for your birthday this year? It has to be special, it is the big one!”.  I suggested, “What if we hosted a 100 unit blood drive in your honor?”  She was tickled pink, and thought it was an amazing idea — and then she said to me (which made me tear up). “I really want to make it to 100, I really do.”

Once we started the wheels in motion, it felt like everything started to fall into place. The Green Bay media (television, radio and the newspaper) all did amazing features on Blanche during the two weeks before the drive. She was an instant celebrity across Northeast Wisconsin. Titletown Brewing Company donated rootbeer for the big day, Pastor Errer from Faith Lutheran Church, where the drive was helded, donated two birthday sheet cakes, many of the Red Cross staff pitched in for sloppy joes, chips, cheese, crackers and other goodies.

Now we just needed donors! To collect 100 units that would mean we would need over 100 people to come in to roll up their sleeves and donate (to account for deferrals and no shows day of.)

12806225_10207234470113419_7128114126914682391_nGoing into the day we had 90 appointments.  I had faith, the Green Bay community would show and show they did! Blanche got to the drive 45 minutes before it started at 11:30 to get comfortable at her registration area, the role she does every Thursday in the Deckner Blood Center.   Starting at 11, donors started coming, and not only to donate blood, they brought cards, gifts and flowers for Blanche. She received two beautiful bouquets of roses and carnations and we still don’t know who they are from. The card only said, “Thanks for the thousands you have helped whom you have never met, Happy 100th.” 

The day was a whirlwind for me, I can’t imagine what it was like for Blanche. The people just kept coming and giving. At noon, we all sang “Happy Birthday” and after we got done, Blanche chimes up, “You forgot the second verse – How old are you? “.  We started singing again, “How old are you?” and she sat at the table and giggled.

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I am still in awe of all those that came out to support this amazing day. The Mayor stopped by to wish Blanche a Happy Birthday, friends of hers from Milwaukee, past Red Cross staff and volunteers, and total strangers. Gail McGovern, President and CEO of the American Red Cross even created a personal video message for Blanche.

So many people mentioned they saw the story about the blood drive on TV, heard on the radio, or read in the paper and came out — some of those being first time donors.  One woman, saw the article in the paper, and Blanche and her mother shared the same birthday and both turning 100 years old. Unfortunately, this women lost her mother in January. When she read the article she knew she had to come out and donate in memory of her Mom and in honor of Blanche.

It was about 5:15pm (the drive ended at 5:30) and the supervisor for the drive, let us know we had our 100th pint collected. The expression on Blanche’s face is one I will never forget.  I think everyone got a tear in their eye (ok, I got more than a tear). We had this bell for her to ring, and she was so excited, she forgot, and we are all chanting, “ring the bell, ring the bell.” and she is literally jumping and ringing the bell over and over, she was so excited. Overall we collected 114 units that days, saving a potential of 342 lives.

When I think back on this day, it still brings a smile to my face and a tear to my eye. I am so grateful for all the donors who gave, the staff for their hard work and the community for making this a day Blanche will never forget. The only way to describe the day was magical.

Click HERE to see additional pictures from the day.

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Book Review: The Promise Of A Pencil by Adam Braun

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“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”  – Howard Thurman

This is the opening quote for the book “The Promise of a Pencil”. As soon as I opened this book and read that line, I was intrigued. This book was recommended to me by one of the board members at the nonprofit I work for and I am so thankful that she did. The book chronicles Adam’s journey on finding his passion, and at first not knowing what his real passion was. This is how I feel about my journey in becoming a volunteer manager. I had no idea this was my passion, and it found me.

To give you a bit of a back ground on the book, Adam Braun started the nonprofit Pencils of Promise with $25 back in 2008 at the age of 24. Five years later Pencils of Promise has now built more than 200 schools around the world in areas of poverty within developing nations. His story tells how “an ordinary person can create extraordinary change.”

Below are a list of principals from the book that resonated with me in my career and why:

Page 36“I had always thought that I was too young to make a difference. I had been told that without the ability to make a large donation to a charity, I couldn’t help change someone’s life. But through the small act of giving one child one pencil, that belief was shattered. I realized that even big waves start with small ripples.”

This is so true – I see everyday how small acts of kindness can make a huge impact on people’s lives. You don’t have to be a millionaire to change the world, you can change the world by the way you treat people in your everyday life.

Page 116 – “Every conversation began with the same question: “What do you love doing most?” Once I understood that person’s passion, we could craft a way for him or her to use it to support PoP. Through that approach, our volunteer force expanded rapidly.”

This is the model I try to follow when I meet with new volunteers. Find out their skills, what are their goals, and what led them to want to volunteer? My goal is to help guide them to their passion.

Page 196 – “I knew that the only way to win the respect of our for-profit peers would be to wed our values and idealism to business acumen. Rather than thinking of ourselves as nonprofit, we would begin to refer to our work as for-purpose.”  

Wow, what a concept and I love this statement and I am proud to say I work “for-purpose” not for a nonprofit.

Page 244 “Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the first female elected head of state in Africa, said, “If your dreams do not scare you, they are not big enough.”

This statement really resonated with me, because I feel like I am struggling right now to figure out what is the next step for me and what do I want to accomplish in these next 40 years? It’s scary but also exciting. Like Adam, I believe I am an ordinary person who can create extraordinary change, what that will be, I look forward to figuring it out, and hopefully impacting lives along the way.

Me with Blake Mycoskie -- completely star struck!

Me with Blake Mycoskie — completely star struck!

Here are some other books that I recommend reading if you are like me, and want to change the world in small and big ways.

“Start Something that Matters” – by Blake Mycoskie, Chief Shoe Giver, TOMS – I admit it, I am a TOMS addict. I have over 12 pairs. I was fortunate enough to meet and have dinner with Blake in 2010 when he spoke on campus of UW-Green Bay.  I was completely in awe of him. His book tells the TOMS story and how it started out of his little apartment in CA to what it is today. An amazing story of true entrepreneurism at its finest.

“The Third Wave – A Volunteer Story” – by Alison Thompson – This book was given to me by a dear friend and volunteer. This book is the story of how volunteering changed Thompson’s life. A great book to give to that special volunteer in our life.

Finding that Right Fit

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Finding the right volunteer opportunity is like dating, and trust me, I have lots of experience in that field. We sometimes have to try out a lot of opportunities before we find the right fit.

Some of us never find that right fit, but we like to try on a variety of opportunities because we learn something new from each one.

Sometimes we find that perfect match and it becomes our passion and focus.

Other times, an opportunity is great for a long time, and then you change, circumstances in your life change, and what you thought was the perfect fit is no longer. You begin to explore new opportunities to give you the fulfillment you are looking for.

 How do you find the right fit for you — long or short term?

  1. Self assessment

I recently sat down with a friend who is going through empty nest syndrome and she was looking to volunteer now that she had free time. I asked her, is there a cause near and dear to your heart that you might want to get involved with.  She said no. Then I asked her is your goal to meet new people your own age, or with your kids out of the house, do you want to be a mentor for other kids, or are you looking to learn a new skill?

She was blown away by all the questions I was asking her, and at the end of our conversation, she told me that she had to think, what did she really want?

  1. Research

Once you figure out what it is you are looking for then it is time do the research. Look at an agencies website to view their volunteer opportunities, call the agency to ask questions, or go visit the office to see the culture of it.  Again, like dating, you need to build up a comfort level to see if you want to make the next move.

  1. Jump in

You know what you want, you think you found the right fit, now it is time to make your move. Go ahead fill out that application (go out on that first date) and see what type of amazing adventures are next to come.

ps…. I am still trying to find my right fit!  🙂