A Way to Have Fun While Helping

When I moved here last summer, I cast around for activities to keep me busy, since I had no job waiting. I learned of Hands On Bay Area, an organization that works with non-profit groups to coordinate volunteer assistance. What appealed to me was the opportunity to choose from an array of activities without having to commit to just one. For example, I helped out at a community center that collects donations of food and clothes for impoverished people, and then I worked at a community rose garden hoeing weeds. Last week I sorted books and affixed labels for the Bring Me a Book Foundation, and yesterday I conversed with people who are learning English as a second language. A volunteer can sign up for a project one time, or can commit to a number of project occurrences.

I enjoyed the ESL facilitation very much; years ago I did this as a volunteer at Syracuse University and UT Austin with international students. It was a wonderful exchange of ideas, culture, and friendship. When I learned that the project leader would need to find a replacement, I decided to consider it. The next step is attending a two-hour training on the duties involved; after the training I’ll be able to lead projects that appeal to me. The Book Foundation and ESL class occur on Tuesdays, and I can participate in each on alternating weeks. The pleasure in these two projects is that one allows me to indulge my librarian nature and the other my inner teacher.

Last fall I also underwent training to be a grief counselor at the Centre for Living With Dying. I was intensely interested in the work. However, after December I took a leave. I knew that I’d be responding to death in my own life soon, and did not feel available to help others. While I hope to return to the Centre at some point, as they do profound and necessary work, I’ll wait until my heart indicates I’m ready.

Meanwhile, I’m enjoying these other volunteer activities, and I’ve had the pleasure of meeting new people who may, at some point, become friends.

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