Thursday, May 29, 2008

On My Mind: Volunteer Opportunities

I've been itching to feel useful and connected to the city, so I've been thinking about volunteering. Literacy for kids and adults, meal preparation and delivery, job force training--these are all areas I have both skill and interest in. So we'll see. I'll let you know what I decide.

I volunteered a lot more when I was younger. In high school, we were required to log 100 volunteer hours to graduate--I did my hours as a volunteer in a newborn nursery in an army hospital, where fathers were often overseas when their babies were born. In college, I organized our dorm's homeless shelter program and served leftover dining hall food to some surprisingly picky eaters. When I was in LA, after 9-11, I volunteered for the Red Cross Disaster Services and Amnesty International because I was in mourning over how disconnected Americans, myself included, were from the rest of the world.

I did notice these meetings were mostly attended by people who were old and/or marginalized--by the latter, I mean unemployed or stay-at-home types or opinionated do-gooders. I used to look around and wonder where are the smart, young, energetic people were. These organizations really needed their brains. They were making a living, I guess.

One of the reasons I don't like living in NY is that I feel I'm more self-centered here, and I think my lack of volunteer efforts is one symptom of that. More than any other place I've lived in, there's a pressure in this city to make it, and that means focusing on me, me, me and....oh yeah, me.

So, I'm going to make a pledge: by week's end, I'm going to contact a couple organizations I've been checking out online. I don't know why typing that freaks me out--"Oh no! A regular time commitment to someone other than you and City Guy! But there's your work, and your social life, and your hobbies, and television!!!" That's my ego talking. Can someone shut her up?

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