Something that only my close friends/family know about me: I volunteer once a week at a home for at-risk teen girls.
Not that I try to keep it a secret or anything…clearly not, since I’m now blogging about it. In fact, I’m actually quite proud of the fact that I’ve given my time for the past two years to teen girls who need it. But volunteering is something that is good, yet deeply personal (at least to me). There are really strict rules about what we can and cannot share with the girls, what we can and cannot give them as far as projects (nothing with glass or sharp edges) and, lastly, we can’t give them any personal information about ourselves. For me, the last rule is particularly difficult since, after two years, I’ve developed attachments to some of these girls. While I’m only with them for 1-2 hours per week, they’re allowed to be creative and free with me, which can sometimes spur emotions that they would otherwise keep hidden.
Growing up, I have a lot of great memories doing arts and crafts projects with my mom, a former art teacher, so it seemed natural to me to pick an activity where the girls (some of which don’t even have parents) would be able to do something similar. Anyway, the point of this post is this: it’s important to give back.
So many of us go through the motions and often feel all “woe is me” about things that are, sorry to say it, just not important. You know what a real problem is? Not having a place to live. Losing a parent to a gun shot wound. Being put into foster care because your parents are drug addicts. THOSE are REAL PROBLEMS. And believe me, I’m guilty of the “white girl problems” too, but every time I start to feel sorry for myself because I’ve gained a few pounds, or can’t afford a trip to Australia, I try to bring myself back to reality by thinking about the girls that I volunteer for. THEIR lives are hard, mine is not.
I encourage all of you to find an organization and volunteer, even if it’s only once a month..or even a few times a year! It truly warms my heart to see my girls and gives me a different perspective on life, honestly.