Hobby #4 - Volunteering
i suppose one can call this a hobby, right? i had a good discussion the other night based upon what constitutes a hobby, which, was actually very intriguing...which should tell you a little about myself i suppose. i have always thought a hobby is what you do in your leisurely time for recreational purposes. we went into the discussion saying that it is not necessarily for monetary purposes, although some hobbies do indeed turn out that way. at any rate i decided that yes, volunteering can be a hobby. it is something i do because i am a big proponent of change, and doing what i can to make change happen in my community. that sounding completely cheesy i also have to admit that it has been a very selfish act as well.
i grew up watching my parents volunteer in our church, which maybe doesn't sound too profound, but learning more and more about cultures and volunteering, i find that not everyone is so accepting of volunteering. there are a lot of cultures that don't believe time (especially for women) should be spent outside of the home and work. i started volunteering in high school through my church at union rescue missions and in mexico through churches. in college i spent a lot of time at the transition house volunteering and found myself dedicated to the alzheimer association because of a stint worked at an alzheimer home.
i moved to long beach in 2004 and found myself in a new city working from home and no social outlet, save for a few close friends. i wanted to do something with my newfound extra time that was beneficial and also meet people in my community. i first heard about the junior league at a wedding from a friend's mom. i did a little research and found myself signing up - surprising myself.
junior league has a lot of stereotypes - pearls and gloves and tea dates and little charity work on the side, but luckily i found a league that no longer resembles the original one. i found myself a little nervous before going to a meeting, but after every one i found myself so amazed by these women. these women, who would be changing diapers and creating change in the community. i marveled at how these women found the time when they had careers and family and who knows what else they did with their 40 hour days. the women were from every different ethnicity and social background and age group. one of my favorite people in the league is 55 years old and younger than any of my peers.
our project is a home for homeless children set in the cabrillo projects in long beach. which, i must add, the villages at cabrillo is one of the most amazing homeless projects i have ever known. our school - Bethune Transitional Center - reaches the children of the shelters ages K-8 and helps transition them into public schools. the junior league of long beach founded this school and turned it over to the Long Beach School District and continues to work with the kids hands on. i have learned a lot from this school and from these kids. from doing art with them at the long beach museum of art to taking them on field trips they have simultaneously ripped my heart apart and filled it with joy.
from the friendships i have made, to the impact on the community i continue to see and experience i am truly grateful that organizations like this exist. i have had the pleasure to serve on our project committee as well as nominating this year and look forward to the rest of my active years...and my sustaining years as well!