Volunteer ....or else

Last night was the 10 year anniversary celebration party for Hands on Portland. What an amazing thing...a group of 175 people came together to start this group that has grown to 12,000 or so over the last ten years. I joined in 2000 and am proud to be one of the 12,000!

I've been a project leader for ages. I started leading projects mostly because I wanted to volunteer with my son, who at that time was 7, and I was having trouble finding projects that would allow me to bring him with me and that interested both of us. As a project leader, I can choose to do anything I want, for any agency I want, and work around my time frame.

Volunteering is my biggest passion in life (aside from motherhood, of course!). I think I started in 9th grade, on my own, volunteering to help wrap presents in the local mall for Lutheran Social Services. My memory sucks and I can't remember how I came to be helping them-maybe a high school class? Regardless, being a volunteer is definitely one of the greatest things I have done.

Some of the projects that we have done include:
*painting a residential school for girls
*yardwork for a housing facility for disadvantaged youth
*making cards for terminally ill children (my current monthly project)
*helping at a charity basketball tournament
*restoring bikes for low-income children
*making Easter dinner for families at the Ronald McDonald house
*painting the hallways of a Portland school
*caring for cats at a privately-owned rescue shelter
*sorting food at the food bank
....and I'm sure there are others that I'm forgetting.

Everyone should volunteer. I think everyone should teach their children that volunteering is a responsibility we all have to carry. The world is such a sad place sometimes and every one of us can make a significant difference in some way.

One of the best ideas for a movie ever is Pay It Forward. Aside from the drama and Helen Hunt (who I don't like for some reason...), the plot of the movie epitomizes what I would love to see happen in real life. It's inspiring and heart-warming and I wish more people would live a "pay it forward" kind of life. The world would be a better place.

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