Weekend Question Thread

Do you volunteer? Where, and why?

I started at the ferret shelter in 2004 or so, looking for something to do that wasn’t my job. All I did back then was work, and it was starting to make me a little nuts, so spending some time with weasels of an evening was a good distraction.


10 thoughts on “Weekend Question Thread

  1. New Orleans Community Emergency Response Team (CERT). The big, well-known things so far have been the Hurricane Gustav evacuation, Baton Rouge road clearing and traffic direction, and New Orleans evacuation recovery back in 2008. For the last two or three Lundi Gras, I’ve assisted in manning the parade route communications center or a parade route first-aid station, which have opened my eyes to all of the things that really go into putting on the greatest free show on Earth.
    I also do a few things for Rising Tide, but that’s more of a drinking organization with a community engagement problem.

  2. I’ve volunteered with our local historical group since it was established in 1975 and now that I’m retired I’m the volunteer director of our museum, spending 12-18 hours a week there. Due to health problems and being married with a kid I wasn’t eligible to go to Vietnam like many of my friends, so I figure volunteering is a little payback for what I didn’t do back then. As development came and paved our community over, it was up to somebody to help save what they could of local history and heritage before it was lost forever, and that turned out to be me, I guess.

  3. Coozan Pat, I happen to LOVE our drinking organization with a community engagement problem!
    Been involved with Rising Tide myself since its second incarnation. I also do all kinds of things at my synagogue – singing in the choir, teaching the kids at religious school, making kugels for Yom Kippur break-the-fast – and at my son’s school. I occasionally help feed the homeless with my husband, who is much more deeply involved with a local organization that does a regular food prep and serving at a local mission on Saturday nights, come rain, shine, or hurricane. It’s tough to do a lot sometimes when you have to take care of a young ‘un, but I try.

  4. Back in ’92, I started volunteering at the SPCA in Houston. I was an “Adoption Counselor”, did it for three years. I loved helping the animals get good owners – but by the end of it, started to really dislike a LOT of people – the sort that surrendered their pets because they “have fleas”, “have a baby in the house now”…let alone the folks I never saw but I did see the results of their ‘handiwork’ when the abused critters were brought in.
    A couple of years later, I volunteered at the big cancer hospital in Houston. At first I was kind of a ‘catch all’ – between going patient room to patient room offering periodicals and t.v. guides or on the ‘coffee craft cart’ going from waiting room to waiting room offering various time-fillers to patients and their families. But the zone I ended up in on a regular basis was that of running/assisting w/ Bingo night in the pediatric ward. I did that for about a year – but in that time I also started to work at the hospital. Being that attached – I realized there were quarterly memorial services for the children that didn’t make it. I started knowing these children and their families…and though I tried attending the services, it was so hard on me emotionally – I’m extremely empathic which can be a bad thing for me. After one of my ‘favorite’ kids, a mid-teen who had already lost most of his family to cancer, had gone into remission and went home, but then had a bad recurrence and came back in…and passed – I had to stop, I wasn’t able to shield enough. The good thing out of all of that was the ability of people to cope. Seeing a 2-1/2 year old handle her abdominal catheter port as deftly as if she were a 35 year old paleontologist exhuming a small spine bone…wow. Seeing parents of longer-term patients help the newbie patient’s parents adjust…heart-warming and -rending at the same time.

  5. I guess the stuff I’ve done with Code Pink and the Vermont Workers’ Center doesn’t count as volunteerism, but the pay is the same. Otherwise, I volunteer with the Community Justice Center up in St Albans: I sit on a Reparative Probation Board and am a member of a COSA (Circle of Support and Accountability) team for a newly-released offender.
    Rep Probation is similar to court diversion, but happens after somebody is already in the system and has been referred to us by the court. Based on restorative justice principles, we work with the offender to determine who has been harmed by their actions, and develop a reparative contract that might include community service, acts of contrition, etc.
    COSA is a re-entry program that is fairly new to the US, modeled after work in Canada. We commit to a year, meeting as a team once a week with the “core member” (offender) and a facilitator, and each of the 3 volunteers also meeting with the core member an additional time per week one-on-on, to make sure they are set up to succeed and not re-offend. This includes helping them with obtaining housing (usually a condition of release), developing life skills like writing a resume, planning meal budgets, etc, setting up community service, following conditions of parole, and whatnot. We are there to support them, and also hold them accountable, which is not something they usual get from the community, Dept of Corrections, et al.
    Very challenging and frustrating at times, but well worth the effort. I see it not only as a moral imperative, but a fiscal one as well: costs us about $48k to keep somebody in prison for a year, and roughly $7k to supervise outside. If we can save the taxpayers’ money, help a person get back on their feet and build a safer community, it’s all good.

  6. Up until the eye went full wonk, I did ESOL Adult Literacy tutoring. I spent alot of my growing up years in Hispanic areas so my Spanglish is good enough for any barrio, but not book perfect. It helps though. East breezy training, and I stick with an adult as long as they need me during the course. I only train one at a time (just easier for me), meet them at the library within walking distance, or as I get to know them, sometime here. Very fulfilling to see them at the end of the course just happy as clams.

  7. I volunteer to man the local Democrat Headquarters. Why? You know why.
    I volunteer as a support person for the local free clinic we started up a year or so ago. I helped build it and maintain it. ‘Cause our group of godless Socialists saw a need. We’ve seen over a thousand visits.

  8. I have volunteered in the past as a Planned Parenthood escort, as a teacher in an ESL program, and at a local public health clinic in a very impoverished Dallas neighborhood.I enjoyed all of these opportunities very much,but lately I am a volunteer chaplain for a program reaching out to victims of trafficking, most of whom are women, and I think I’ve found something that may become a part time vocation. Another vocation…just what I needed :\
    Then I’ll have to find another women’s group to volunteer with 🙂

  9. I volunteer as a delivery site coordinator for a local food co-op (an online buying club from in-state producers); my wife and I have been non-skating officials with the local flat-track roller derby league for five seasons; I just started as a co-programmer for a local ecological talk show and fill-in DJ at the community-owned radio station. There’s a great no-kill cat shelter where I’d love to put in a few hours a week. Same with a nearby DV shelter.

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