Day 1: Creating Space

Stuffing gift bags for the CAG Christmas party
Cake-fueled creativity

Cake-fueled creativity

“Promises to children are sacred.” This mantra from my days as a KIPP teacher kept scrolling through my mind as I promised several dozen elementary school kids that they would absolutely all get to have one of the pieces of cake spread out on the table between us- after a short graduation ceremony. Fortunately, the cake was massive, so it was an easy promise to both make and keep. Plus, we were standing in the Carpenter Art Garden (CAG), where staff and volunteers have worked daily to build trust and create empowering relationships with the children in this Binghampton neighborhood. These kids had every reason to believe me.

When I first pulled up in front of the Carpenter Art Garden and the adjacent Purple House just before 3:00, my eye was drawn to a house on the other side of Carpenter Street with “CAG Bike Shop” painted on the front. As Megan Banaszek, the energetic program director for CAG, would explain during our quick tour of the block, the Bike Shop was just one of several lots on the street that had been transformed from blighted property to neighborhood asset.

Two almost-graduates of the CAG bike mechanics program

Two almost-graduates of the CAG bike mechanics program

For the first day of my volunteer odyssey, I got to see multiple aspects of the work CAG has been doing in this community, which is in the immediate vicinity of Cornerstone Prep elementary school and the large apartment complex where many of the students live. First, three teenage boys would be graduating from the bike repair program, which was the reason for both the gigantic cake and the ceremony. Next, the kids would decorate the multitude of bicycles housed in the Bike Shop in preparation for the afternoon’s culminating event: the first annual Christmas bike parade.

Over the course of the afternoon, I could see evidence that the kids who participated in the programs offered at the Carpenter Art Garden felt safe and nurtured there. They were open and confident with adults, even when talking to a stranger like me. Older children were clearly empowered to assume leadership in group activities. I observed them helping younger kids with their bikes and settling little squabbles that inevitably erupted during the afternoon. Everyone participated in the creative process of decorating their bikes and themselves for the parade.

I finished my afternoon in the Purple House by helping stuff hats and gloves into gift bags for all of the kids to receive at a Christmas party the following day. Just inside, a volunteer helped some teenagers prepare for the ACT. On the front porch, a group of middle schoolers waited to be picked up for a basketball game. As I wrapped up my time there, it occurred to me that what CAG offers to the neighborhood kids goes much deeper than arts-based programming and good winter hats. I was reminded that sometimes the best way to invest in your community is simply to create space for growth- be it creativity, leadership development, or building trust.

To learn more about the Carpenter Art Garden, visit www.carpenterartgarden.com.

Stuffing gift bags for the CAG Christmas party

Stuffing gift bags

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Bikes decorated and ready for the parade

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Binghampton neighborhood pride

Binghampton neighborhood pride

First Annual CAG Bike Parade

First Annual CAG Bike Parade

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prologue: Kathleen Quinlen

Life on the Mississippi
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Life on the Mississippi

I think of myself as a Memphian. After all, I spent the first 18 years of my life in this city. I went ice skating at the Mall of Memphis, ate my weight in Danver’s cheeseburgers, and still refer to the flagship university as “Memphis State.” But after spending 18 subsequent years living elsewhere, I realize that much has changed in the city I still think of as home.

For the past seven years, I have been living and working in the rural Arkansas Delta. I started there as a public school teacher, then transitioned into a program director role at the county chamber of commerce three years ago. Over the course of my time in the Delta, I developed a love for working in the public and nonprofit sectors. For the first time in my life, I felt like I had found my calling- at least vocationally. At the same time, I also felt the pull to return to the place I was born and raised.

Almost a year ago, over a long New Year’s Day lunch with friends, I made a single resolution: to move back to Memphis before the end of the year. My reasons for doing so were numerous, but at the top of the list was the visible growth and progress that Memphis has made over the past decade. As I began plotting the course for my move back, I was both pleasantly surprised and a bit intimidated by the expanse of the nonprofit landscape that had evolved since I left in the 90s.

Since I would be looking for a new job to go along with this move, I reached out to my friends and family for help connecting with philanthropically-minded Memphians who might be able to point me in the right direction. After a couple of fruitful meetings, one name and organization emerged as the consistent refrain from all of these people: Sarah Petschonek, Volunteer Odyssey.

After meeting with the Volunteer Odyssey team, I was convinced that the Job Seeker program was an experience I could not pass up. I am eager to learn more about a handful of the dynamic organizations currently driving positive change in Memphis, and I’m excited about the variety of experiences I will have. More importantly, I welcome the opportunity to contribute something positive to benefit others during the otherwise typically self-centered process that is job seeking.

Ultimately, I am hoping to rediscover the city I once thought I knew so well and to acquaint myself with the people who call it home.

Day 7: What Does Homelessness Look Like?

Homemade chess squares for the Sunday evening gathering.

 

Helping prepare the dessert!

Helping prepare the dessert!

I had driven by the building thousands of times but never knew of the kindness and generosity happening inside. If I hadn’t known I was visiting the Dorothy Day House  and sharing dessert with homeless families and other volunteers, I would have thought I was celebrating the holidays at a friend’s house.

Walking in the backdoor like all family members do, I met a large group of volunteers toting boxes and bags of presents and armfuls of desserts. I immediately felt humbled as I walked in with my small box of chess squares as meager contribution to the evening’s dessert buffet. “What organization are you with?” I asked the mass of volunteers. “Oh, we aren’t with an organization. We are family and friends just helping out.” My feelings of humility increased.

Homemade chess squares for the Sunday evening gathering.

Homemade chess squares for the Sunday evening gathering.

As I walked into the home, the green nametags worn by the two staff members were the only way I distinguished them from residents. Staff members were carrying infants. Residents were helping move chairs into the living room where we would all gather shortly. As the volunteer kiddos met the resident kiddos, it was immediate camaraderie….and chaos! As any great holiday party at a friend’s house has! This isn’t what I know homelessness to look like.

When Sr. Maureen, Executive Director of the Dorothy Day House, began to lead us in prayers of thanksgiving, the laughter and chaos gave way to a peaceful hush. Again, I was humbled when she asked me to read a selection from the book of Matthew. Staff, residents and volunteers then proceeded in saying the Lord’s Prayer together.

The Dorothy Day House has provided safe harbor for Sue and her family of four (two sons and two daughters) for eight months. They traveled to Memphis from the mid-west. As she told me her story, I listened, but didn’t pry. I let Sue share the details of her undoubtedly painful journey as she wanted. “Coming to Memphis wasn’t my plan. It just happened.”

Her exposure to Memphis is two-fold: what Sue sees in the news and what she has experienced first- hand at the Dorothy Day House. It’s quite a contrast. In the news, she hears of the deplorable things that happen in our city. But her personal experience at the Dorothy Day House has been filled with an outpouring of kindness, understanding, hope, and support.

Families unwrapping holiday presents donated by generous volunteers!

Families unwrapping holiday presents donated by generous volunteers!

The impact and power of giving was evident this evening. The boxes and bags of holiday gifts brought by the family of volunteers were astonishing. After opening gift after gift and package after package, Sue’s older daughter ran upstairs to try on a new outfit. It fit her perfectly. Not only did it fit her slight frame but also her personality and style, too! She loved it!

More donated gifts being received with warm smiles and sincere gratitude.

More donated gifts being received with warm smiles and sincere gratitude.

Sr. Maureen asked Sue if she liked the gifts she received as mother of the family. Sue’s response was, “Oh yes! I love seeing the smiles on the faces of my children.”

The Dorothy Day House is different from other locals shelters. Many shelters in Memphis don’t house male and female family members at the same facility nor accept teenage males. It is tragic enough for a family to experience the hardships and pain that come with being homeless, but to have husbands and wives, fathers and daughters, mothers and sons separated from each other is heart wrenching.

The purpose is simple: “The Dorothy Day House keeps homeless families together, creating a safe haven and a community for entire families.” Simple, but not possible without a small, yet compassionate staff and hundreds of giving volunteers.

It feels like a home here. The Dorothy Day House is a true blessing to the homeless families in our community. Even better, four more houses have been purchased by the Dorothy Day organization to house Memphis’ homeless families. Our help is needed now as much as ever!

To find out how you can be a valuable supporter of this amazing organization, check out the Dorothy Day House website at http://www.dorothydaymemphis.org/who-we-are-1/.

Day 6: Yes, There Is Room For You Here

Serving breakfast at Peace Lutheran Church
Serving breakfast at Peace Lutheran Church

Serving breakfast at Peace Lutheran Church

It was 26⁰ with a wind chill of 19⁰. At 5:00 this morning, frost covered the trees, coated grass on the ground and reflected the season’s festive holiday light decorations. It was quiet and still with few if any people traveling the roads.

My car was just starting to feel warmer as I arrived early at Peace Lutheran Church. Sitting in the parking lot looking at the darkened church, I thought of the people inside, taking brief shelter from the cold and insecurity of homelessness. They spent the night at the church. I wondered if they too felt as though they had just gotten warm when it was time to step out into the elements again.

Peace Lutheran Church is one of the many local communities of faith partnering with Room In The Inn to provide dinner, breakfast, a snack bag, and safe and warm overnight shelter one night each week from November to March. Congregation members, serving as hosts, stay overnight with their guests, prepare meals, and provide an environment where their guests come to understand people care. Likewise, hosts come to understand people living on our Memphis streets are more than a statistic.

Folding blankets in preparation for the next guests.

Folding blankets in preparation for the next guests.

Nicholas, one of the dedicated Friday evening hosts and a senior at Carver High School, put me to work right away. As the guests strip the linens from their cots or air mattresses, I gathered the sheets for volunteers to wash at home and return to the church within the week. I folded and placed blankets at the foot of each bed. I was thinking this was such a simple task when Nicholas explained how much faster cleaning up goes with extra hands.

Church volunteers drive guests downtown by 7:00 AM. But first, breakfast is served. This morning, we served sausage patties and garlic bread. Instant oatmeal, cereal, juice and coffee were also available. After asking if everyone had their first plate, guests would come back to see if seconds were available. Not knowing when they would have another meal did not stand in the way of ensuring everyone had a chance to eat first.

Through the rest of my day, I kept the guests in mind. What are they doing now? Where will they stay tonight? Will they have anything to eat this evening? Will I see them again? I think of Nicholas and other church volunteers who provide security to our homeless during the cold months.

Nicholas and Meredee, awesome Peace Lutheran and Room In The Inn Volunteers!

Nicholas and Meredee, awesome Peace Lutheran and Room In The Inn Volunteers!

I will see them again, and Nicholas, Meredee and other church volunteers too if I dedicate one weekend per month, five months per year to supporting Peace Lutheran Church and Room In The Inn. For such a minimal time commitment – as little as one weekend per month during the coldest months of the year – and such simple tasks, the impact is significant.

Room in the Inn-Memphis gets its name from a story in the Bible about a family coming to a small town called Bethlehem and not finding any room in the inn. With the vital services Room In The Inn provides, many more without a home hear “yes, there is room for you here.”

Room In The Inn has participating sites all over the city. Is your congregation one of them? To find out and see how you can provide support see http://www.roomintheinn-memphis.org/.

Day 5: Meeting People Where They Are On Their Journey

Joining Cookie in the sing-a-long!
Trust the journey.

Trust the journey.

It’s the natural course of life, losing our parents, but just because it’s natural doesn’t make it easier. Whether it is sudden or a child loses their parent little by little over a period of time, losing a parent brings heartbreak like no other.

“I said goodbye to my mom two years ago,” said a dear friend whose mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease three years ago. My friend still sees her mother nearly every day but the woman she visits isn’t the mother she once was.

For patients and those caring for family members diagnosed with memory loss, the days can be stressful, long and filled with sadness of loss. For these, the Page Robbins Adult Day Center is a blessing and a reprieve.

Joining Cookie in the sing-a-long!

Joining Cookie in the sing-a-long!

The center offers daytime programs for middle-aged and older adults challenged with memory loss. Safe, age- and ability-appropriate activities are provided each weekday to encourage socialization and group participation. Page Robbins also assists the primary caregiver through monthly support groups, educational sessions, and guidance on caring for loved ones at home.

This morning, as I joined the sing-along with participants in the Page Robbins Adult Care program, I looked at the faces and into the eyes of those playing instruments and singing with the two talented volunteer vocalists-guitarists leading the activity. I wondered how many Christmases the participants remember and what Christmas will be like for them and their families this year.

A large circle of participants sing along with talented volunteer musicians.

A large circle of participants sing along with talented volunteer musicians.

With the dedication the center’s staff shows in caring for the participants, planning engaging activities, and serving warm nutritious lunches, I would be completely comfortable leaving my mother in their capable hands.

Today, I also enjoyed a friendly game of a version of kickball with other participants. I noticed some participants were very engaged, on the ready in case the ball came their way. Others were caught off guard when the ball rested at their feet. And that was okay. Meeting each person where they are on their journey is part of the approach the center takes with each participant.

A friendly game of kickball.

A friendly game of kickball.

Sitting in the art room, cutting out pink and red construction paper hearts in preparation for Valentine’s Day, Joyce Quintrell, the activity and volunteer coordinator, explained the Page Robbins facility is different from many others. At other facilities, there is one activity at a time and all participants, regardless of ability or interest, must be at the activity. At Page Robbins, the participants have options.

The art room is a special place indeed!

The art room is a special place indeed!

I noticed this in action near the end of my time at the center. While other participants were finishing lunch or heading to other activities, one participant joined me in the art room. He walked over to the easel to continue working on a painting he started a few days ago. Seeing a man find happiness and contentment, during a time when despair and sadness consume so many, made me see the awesomeness of the services Page Robbins provides!

The center is able to offer so many options for their clients because of their dedicated volunteers. As you make 2017 plans to give back to our community, keep the Page Robbins Adult Day Center in mind. For more information on how you can help, please visit their website http://pagerobbins.org/.

Day 4: Le Bonheur Specials and Friendly Smiles

Gordon, the awesome Le Bonheur volunteer and his amazing hot beverage cart!

“Hey, Hot Chocolate Lady! My mom wants some, too!” the younger sibling of a Le Bonheur patient excitedly hollered as he placed his order with me at the Hot Drinks Beverage Cart.

Four donated hot beverage dispensers and one awesome Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital volunteer is all it took to create the Hot Drinks Beverage Cart. Gordon is the awesome volunteer and mastermind behind it all!

Gordon, the awesome Le Bonheur volunteer and his amazing hot beverage cart!

Gordon, the awesome Le Bonheur volunteer and his amazing hot beverage cart!

Tapping into his creative side, carpentry skills and passion for delivering happiness, Gordon constructed wooden structures that, when attached, turn your ordinary office cart into a festive traveling coffee shop that any barista would envy. Today, I had the pleasure of accompanying Gordon on his morning route.

The lights and Gordon’s hand-crafted seasonal decorations that adorn the beverage cart draw the attention of staff, patients and parents of patients as we meander through the hallways of the hospital. The moment we stepped on the 12th floor to begin today’s journey, folks flocked to the cart, either curious about such a sight or delighted the cart had arrived!

Through the patient’s room window that provides visibility into the hallway, a mom saw the wooden “Hot Beverages” sign and rushed to the door. With anxious anticipation, she asked, “Do you have tea? I need a cup of tea.” Of course we have tea! You could see and feel her tension subside. As I handed her a fresh, made to order cup of tea (perfectly prepared, might I add), her husband began reaching for his wallet. We kindly explained everything from the beverage cart was complimentary.

Whether new, longer term or returning parents of children admitted to the hospital, they all had the same exhausted, haggard, worried look. After knocking and getting the okay to enter a patient’s room, we introduced ourselves and asked the residents if they would like a hot beverage: coffee, tea, apple cider or the Le Bonheur Special: hot chocolate made with coffee instead of water, with or without marshmallows.

It didn’t take me long to realize this isn’t just a traveling coffee stand delivering hot beverages. This is genuine, thoughtful compassion in action. Just as the gesture of a warm beverage brings brief relief to the parent of a sick child, it also comforts the doctors and nurses who care for these precious patients and families.

If you happen to be at Le Bonheur, keep an eye out for the Hot Beverage Cart passing through the halls. Be sure to try the Le Bonheur Special with marshmallows, and please tell Gordon that the “Hot Chocolate Lady” says hi!

The Volunteer Services Office at Le Bonheur is awesome! If you are looking for a volunteer opportunity, please be sure to check out their website http://www.lebonheur.org/ways-to-help.

Day 3: Memphis’ Other Neglected

Sorting donated newspapers so dog and cat kennels can be quickly lined by staff and volunteers.

After delivering the last meal to a senior in our community earlier this week, I glanced in my rearview mirror. There she was. Her eyes met mine. She was wet, cold, emaciated, and by the looks of her, had given birth to who-knows-how many litters of puppies.

It didn’t matter one bit that I was in an unfamiliar part of town. I had to try to help her.

Grabbing the last of my stash of pre-packaged peanut butter and cracker snacks that I keep on hand for just this occasion, I tried to lure her closer to me. As she backed away, she wouldn’t take her eyes off me, wanting so desperately to trust a human. I put the crackers on the sidewalk, out of the street traffic, and walked away. The further I retreated from the food, the closer she came to it.

As I returned to my car, she devoured every crumb. She was still scared, cold and wet, and I had a broken heart and tears in my eyes.

This isn’t the first time I’ve done this and it won’t be the last – not as long as we have so many animals in our community that aren’t spayed or neutered. As much as I love all things Memphis, we still have a lot of work to do in specific areas, particularly addressing our high population of neglected cats and dogs.

In 2005, Mid South Spay and Neuter Services (MSNS) opened its doors with the mission of “reducing pet overpopulation and high euthanasia rates by offering affordable spay and neuter surgeries to the public.”

Sorting donated newspapers so dog and cat kennels can be quickly lined by staff and volunteers.

Sorting donated newspapers so dog and cat kennels can be quickly lined by staff and volunteers.

According to the Humane Society of Memphis & Shelby County’s website, one unspayed cat can produce 4,948 kittens in 7 years. Since opening, MSNS has performed 37,000 spay and neuter procedures for both dogs and cats.

Take a moment. Do the math. Think about it. What would our neglected pet population be without the safe, compassionate and affordable services provided by MSNS?

The clinic’s veterinarian is trained in specialized procedures to operate on a high volume of patients daily while minimizing the recuperation time. Given the significant number of surgeries performed per day, things must move very quickly. The staff is amazing! Compassionate yet focused on ensuring the day’s patients receive the surgery and care needed to reduce Memphis’ pet overpopulation problem.

Today, I helped support the staff by sterilizing surgical instruments; washing, drying and folding donated towels and sheets; and calming anxious animals before surgery and soothing them as they came out of anesthesia.

Can you imagine being locked in this kennel not knowing where you are or what happens next?

Can you imagine being locked in this kennel not knowing where you are or what happens next?

With the continued efforts of the MSNS, donors and volunteers, the day will come when we won’t see so many frightened, hungry, injured animals wandering our Memphis streets. Go to http://spaymemphis.org/ to learn how you can help.

Day 2: It Isn’t Magic

Still looking for that light pole number!

Remember the days when downtown Memphis wasn’t anywhere you wanted to be after dark, and Overton Square was a barren wasteland? These areas didn’t become the lively, thriving, hot spots of Memphis they are today with the wave of a magic wand. It took planning, investing and a lot of hard work.

Great news! Our city’s revitalization focus is expanding!

The Memphis Medical District is long overdue for much needed attention. Bordered by Poplar Avenue, I-240, Vance Avenue and Danny Thomas Boulevard, the area between midtown and downtown is home to esteemed institutions such as St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, University of Tennessee Health Science Center, Methodist LeBonheur, Regional One Health, and many others.

Looking for that light pole number!

Looking for that light pole number!

The Memphis Medical District Collaborative (MMDC) was formed less than a year ago by the Chief Executive Officers and leaders from the medical and higher education organizations in the district. Making this area “more livable, economically prosperous, clean and safe” is the mission of the MMDC.

Still looking for that light pole number!

Still looking for that light pole number!

Given my love for all things Memphis, Volunteer Odyssey arranged for me to participate in the MMDC’s “Lights On!” project this evening. With the goal of making the district safer, one of the first projects to tackle is addressing the numerous non-functioning streetlights. Tonight, several other volunteers and I supported this effort by driving through assigned zones and documenting non-working lights so the details can be reported to and addressed by MLGW.

As MLGW repairs the lights over the next several weeks, the streets in the Medical District will be brighter and well on the way to becoming safer for folks who work, live and travel through the neighborhood.

And boy, was this project needed! My volunteer partner, David and I audited and identified approximately 30 broken streetlights in the 200+ acre zone we were assigned. As MLGW repairs the lights over the next several weeks, the streets in the Medical District will be brighter and well on the way to becoming safer for folks who work, live and travel through the neighborhood.

Keep your eye on the Memphis Medical District! Awesome change is happening thanks to the vision, dedication, passion and hard work of the Memphis Medical District Collaborative! Check out their website for more details on the revitalization efforts http://mdcollaborative.org

Day 1: I Didn’t Get It

At MIFA office loading the car with nutritious meals for delivery to seniors in our community!
At MIFA office loading the car with nutritious meals for delivery to seniors in our community!

At MIFA office loading the car with nutritious meals for delivery to seniors in our community!

We hear about it in the news or read about it online: the number of Memphians who struggle with food insecurity, but I didn’t really get it until today when I delivered meals to homebound seniors with MIFA’s Meals on Wheels program.

When I arrived at the MIFA (Metropolitan Inter-Faith Association) offices this morning, the staging area of the Meals on Wheels department was lined with cooler after cooler and box after box of meals. My first thought was how wonderful it was to see so much warm food going to our neighbors in need.

Driving around, delivering the meals, I began taking in the reality of some of the living conditions: broken windows covered with tape and cardboard; so much structural decay that I wondered how the house was still standing; the smell of natural gas coming from inside the home as residents try to stay warm. How can so many people in Memphis lack access to affordable, nutritious food?

Worries? Problems? Sure, we all have them. For many of us, our concerns may be landing the big account at work; getting a first-class seat on a full flight; ensuring the table looks spectacular for the holiday dinner; or finding the perfect present for that loved one on our list who has everything.

After today, I may not “get it” on the level as some of our Memphis neighbors, but I sure have a new awareness of how serious food insecurity is in our city.

MIFA is an incredible organization that provides life saving services to those most vulnerable in Memphis. MIFA desperately needs volunteers! I’ve signed up to deliver meals again December 19, and I’d love for you to join me! To find out more about MIFA and how you can help, please visit their website http://www.mifa.org/

 

Prologue: Heather Murphy

heather-and-pepsi-april-2011-2

heather-and-pepsi-april-2011-2

I love lending a helping hand! At family holiday gatherings, where can you find me? In the kitchen, helping the host/hostess prepare, serve and clean up after meals. Every 56 days, where can you find me? At a LifeBlood blood drive donating blood. You’ll also find me at the Memphis International Airport at 6:00 weekend mornings meeting Make-A-Wish families helping them check-in, navigate through security and board the plane for their “amazing wish adventure.”

My path to Volunteer Odyssey began a few short weeks ago while attending a Career Transition meeting when the meeting facilitator mentioned Volunteer Odyssey to another attendee.

Well, thinking back a bit further, my path to Volunteer Odyssey began earlier.

At the end of 2014, after 18 years working with a Fortune 500 manufacturing company headquartered in Memphis, I was laid off. I was devastated. Not to mention, terrified about looking for and finding my next career opportunity. After a week or two, I decided to look at this as a great chance to do something new and different. With my enthusiasm for providing world-class customer service while using my strengths in process improvement and problem solving, I was on my way to landing a job with a company I’d work with for the next half of my career. Or, so I thought.

Sure, my job search list included local non-profit organizations, but I continued to mostly apply for corporate positions. And, naturally, that’s where I landed, twice, over the past 2 years. In 2015, I worked as a purchasing manager. Over the summer of 2016, I worked as a client services manager.

I resigned from both positions. Something was missing. But what? Did the responsibilities of the roles not play to my skills? Do I want more daily interaction with external “customers” than the positions provided?

After hearing about Volunteer Odyssey and looking through their website, I contacted Sarah, the Founder and Executive Director. Shortly after, I met with Sarah and Caroline. I shared with them my passion for animal welfare and as a native Memphian, my love for all-things-Memphis! We talked about my previous volunteer work with the Germantown Animal shelter (where I adopted my current four-legged baby 12 years ago) and my board member experience with Lamplighter Montessori School (where I graduated from….a bit more than 12 years ago).

Participating in Volunteer Odyssey’s Job Seekers program is a wonderful opportunity to make a meaningful difference to those in our community; learn more about organizations that provide valuable, often life changing support; and meet amazing people! And who knows…..maybe this will help me find the aspects of a career opportunity that have been missing.

I hope you will follow me on my Volunteer Odyssey journey by reading my blogs here and following me on Facebook!