Day 7: On Second Thought about that Spooky Trail

I learned the Spooky Night's trail at Shelby Farms as I completed my Volunteer Odyssey. But somehow, I'm even more terrified about my anticipated trek in October.
I learned the Spooky Night's trail at Shelby Farms as I completed my Volunteer Odyssey. But somehow, I'm even more terrified about my anticipated trek in October.

I learned the Spooky Night’s trail at Shelby Farms as I completed my Volunteer Odyssey. But somehow, I’m even more terrified about my anticipated trek in October.

I plan to go on the Shelby Farms Spooky Night’s haunted trail this fall; I thought that helping out today with securing the trail’s temporary fencing as well as picking up trash along the way would prepare me to walk the trail with no fear and win all bets with friends.  I now know what I can expect along the Spooky Night’s trail; however, I think I’m now even more terrified!

In addition to getting a behind the scenes view of the trail’s preparation for Spooky Nights throughout October, I also met more Shelby Farm’s staff and board members.  They encouraged me to stay in touch with the happenings at the Park.

In the meantime, I plan to come back to Shelby Farms Spooky Night’s trail.  Right now the decision to come back as a volunteer to help out at the trail’s exit is weighing in heavier than coming back and walking the haunted trail!

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Connected with Shelby Farm’s volunteer coodinator, Irene Montanez.

In addition to getting a behind the scenes view of the trail’s preparation for Spooky Nights throughout October, I also met more Shelby Farm’s staff and board members.  They encouraged me to stay in touch with the happenings at the Park.

In the meantime, I plan to come back to Shelby Farms Spooky Night’s trail.  Right now the decision to come back as a volunteer to help out at the trail’s exit is weighing in heavier than coming back and walking the haunted trail!

Thank you for reading! Like what you read? With more than 10 years experience, Cristalynne Dupree is searching for a job where she will use her marketing, public relations and communications skill to coordinate strategies and tactics that will reach and engage the organization’s target audience.  Contact her at 1225Cristalynne@gmail.com or jobleads@volunteerodyssey.com.

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Day 5: More Empowering Connections

It was my goal to aid in Catholic Charities' empowering cause for meeting the needs of many people in the Memphis community.
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I made box labels after sorting clothes. My heart feels good about what I did here today.

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Memphis and the surrounding community answers the Catholic Charities of West Tennessee’s call to action by donating clothes for Operation Bare Necessities.

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It was my goal to aid in Catholic Charities’ empowering cause for meeting the needs of many people in the Memphis community.

During my Volunteer Odyssey I’ve discovered more about buildings that I’ve passed a million times; however, I didn’t realize that the building that housed an empowering community  resource. I was introduced to Catholic Charities of West Tennessee on Jefferson Avenue.  Christine Hash, Manager of Supportive Services, gave me a tour of the organization’s facilities, which formerly a school. Catholic Charities has started receiving donations to fill Christmas wish lists. The room that was once a gymnasium, now looked like a toy store and it’s only September!  Looking at the toys that had were in the process of being arranged by category, big girls and boys as well as little kids. I could only smile at Memphis, after being told that the toys had been donated by local charities, schools and businesses.

Today, I sorted clothes to benefit the Mobile Clothing Outreach program, which just started this past August. They have started incorporating the clothing outreach into their mobile food outreach. With this program, Catholic Charities was able to provide clothing for an additional 290 people. They have delivered to Birthright, Neighborhood Christian Center, St. Mary’s and other locations. My heart smiled again knowing that the clothing I boxed up will be taking a future mobile clothing outreach.

I also learned that they just launched their new program Bouquets of Hope. With this project they will receive donations of flowers previously used at events such as weddings. These flowers will be converted into fresh arrangements to be sent to every hospital, hospice or nursing home patient, to brighten their days. Being a creative visual artist myself, I took interest in volunteering to help with flower arrangements.

My service today was a benefit for Catholic Charities of West Tennessee and they were the same to me in return. I met some awesome people like Volunteer Coordinator, Peggy Stehling. I told them about my career interests and experience; in turn, they asked for my resume with intentions to check on possible positions with them. They also said that they will be forwarding my resume to other opportunities that should correlate with what I do in public relations and communications.

Thank you for reading! Like what you read? With more than 10 years experience, Cristalynne Dupree is searching for a job where she will use her marketing, public relations and communications skill to coordinate strategies and tactics that will reach and engage the organization’s target audience.  Contact her at 1225Cristalynne@gmail.com or jobleads@volunteerodyssey.com.

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If you like our work, please donate to keep it going.

Want the insider story and more pictures? Connect with us on Facebook and Twitter!

Looking for great volunteer opportunities in Memphis? Check out our calendar of volunteer opportunities.

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Day 4: Big Fuzzies

How could you not love a desk paper weight with a face like that?
How could you not love a desk paper weight with a face like that?

How could you not love a desk paper weight with a face like that?

He's playing bashful.

He’s playing bashful.

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I had to remind myself that my home isn’t quite ready for Jagger.

Today, I learned the MHS is an independent non-profit that survives off private donations and grants. It takes $5,000 a day to operate. That’s $1.8 million a year.

Going in to volunteer, I was afraid that they would put me with the biggest fluffiest dog that they had. Not because I’m afraid of them or anything. Gosh no. But because I love them and would have wanted to take him home! Instead I got a chance to meet a quite a few of the canine personalities. I met with several dogs and the designated walkers to get to know the animals and take notes on their personality.

The blurbs that I created would be used to display on their windows as people come to see them as they are choosing a dog to take home. The information would also go on the MHS website for people to read as they attempt to better know the dogs online and make decisions about the new friend that they would welcome to their new living quarters.

The dogs that I met today had personalities that went from one end of the spectrum to the other. There were two large dogs under the desk of the person that was sitting next to me in the office. They sat there in silence for more than an hour. I didn’t know they were there until I got ready to leave. I was told that they were a member of the shy bunch. They were rescued from an overcrowded environment of 60 dogs and they hadn’t had much human contact in their lifetime.

I learned more about the difference between the Memphis Human Society and the Memphis Animal Shelter. In simple terms, the Memphis Human Society protects animals, like the two shy dogs, from people. The MHS takes in a greater number of rescued animals and injured animals and does not euthanize animals for time or space. The Memphis Animal Shelter, more or less, protects people from animals in picking up strays. They will euthanize animals because their shelter maybe overcrowded and because an animal has not been adopted after so long.  Today I met animals that had been at the MHS for months and several years in some cases.

Though I didn’t take anyone home today, I did make some of the most adorable friends!

Thank you for reading! Like what you read? With more than 10 years experience, Cristalynne Dupree is searching for a job where she will use her marketing, public relations and communications skill to coordinate strategies and tactics that will reach and engage the organization’s target audience.  Contact her at 1225Cristalynne@gmail.com or jobleads@volunteerodyssey.com.

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If you like our work, please donate to keep it going.

Want the insider story and more pictures? Connect with us on Facebook and Twitter!

Looking for great volunteer opportunities in Memphis? Check out our calendar of volunteer opportunities.

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Day 3: Anyone can make the simple complicated.

Cristalynne had instant flashbacks of when she was introduced to the art of yarn wrapping as a kid. She had the chance to bring that joy of learning to the children of the Carpenter Art Garden.

I had instant flashbacks of when I was introduced to the art of yarn wrapping as a kid. I had the chance to bring that joy of learning to the children of the Carpenter Art Garden.

The kids create visual artworks that add life to the Carpenter Art Garden.

Once completed this yarn wrap art will say, “The Carpenter Art Garden.” It is signage for the Garden’s vending booth at the Cooper-Young Festival. The kids will be able to sell there artwork.

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The kids taught me how to make a 3-D image of her hand. In exchange, I plan to come back and teach them something new and fun in art!

“Anyone can make the simple complicated. Creativity is making the complicated simple.” Charles Mingus, Jazz Icon.

After stepping out of my truck on Carpenter Street, it could be said that when my feet hit the pavement that I was now in the rough. Considering that Carpenter Street had earned the reputation of being one of the roughest streets in the Binghamton neighborhood. Be that as it may, I was only moments from stepping into a diamond, the Carpenter Art Garden.

I was introduced to the Garden by its organizer, Erin Harris. The Garden is a breath of fresh air across from a school where art classes are no longer offered. It’s a creative Mecca for an average of more than 60 students after school. It’s also a community connecting factor, prior to its existence some neighbors had never even known the other’s name.

Selecting my area for helping children with art projects wasn’t a difficult choice as I was greeted by the eyes and smile of child that was working on a yarn and nail art project. I was instantly taken back to when I was around her age working on a similar project in art class. We would be making a sign that says, “The Art Garden.”  It would be used for the Garden’s booth at the Cooper-Young Festival, where the children would be able to sell their art.

I appreciated being able to talk and share with the children, I was humbled by their excitement and questions when I told them that I was an artist. I could only smile when some of the other volunteers were taken aback when I showed them photos of my artwork and then told them that I’ve never gone to school for my craft. It’s only something that I’ve been able to do since birth as it has evolved over the years.

Eyes lit up when I told several of the program’s planners that I’m interested in possibly teaching an art class for the children. I’ll return to the Garden when a local artist will teach a drawing class for kids. I’ll be there just to watch the class in progress and take notes for myself on walking with children as they move further into their creative abilities just as what was done for me as child.

The classes will be in “The Purple House.”  Though the Carpenter Art Garden planned to refurbish the previous purple house to coincide with the surrounding Gardens, previously drug infested, it had become unsalvageable. As the Garden became more popular for children in the community and they learned of the plans to build a new house, they contended that the house had to be purple. Thus we now have “The Purple House.”

With the Art Garden on one side of The Purple House, on the opposite side, you will find a community garden with fruits and vegetables; it’s just as colorful as the Art Garden.

Thank you for reading! Like what you read? With more than 10 years experience, Cristalynne Dupree is searching for a job where she will use her marketing, public relations and communications skill to coordinate strategies and tactics that will reach and engage the organization’s target audience.  Contact her at 1225Cristalynne@gmail.com or jobleads@volunteerodyssey.com.

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If you like our work, please donate to keep it going.

Want the insider story and more pictures? Connect with us on Facebook and Twitter!

Looking for great volunteer opportunities in Memphis? Check out our calendar of volunteer opportunities.

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Day 2: Tarjeta de Identificación is Spanish for ID Card; but Jazz, a Coke and a Smile is a Universal Language.

It's in Cristalynne's nature to lend a helping hand.

 

It's in my nature to lend a helping hand whenever I can.

It’s in Cristalynne’s nature to lend a helping hand.

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This angel was eager for me to show her how to make a fan. Her grandmother just smiled at her granddaughter learning something new. My team and I were leaving she told me to always keep that spirit about myself.

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Before leaving I connected strangers in conversation which led to the little girl learning now to make an airplane.

Today I was responsible for helping three of the approximate 260 people that will take refuge in Memphis apply for their social security cards. These refugees faced war and persecution in their native homelands. I worked with World Relief Memphis a faith based resource to aid these people in “replanting their lives.”  With World Relief helps immigrants become self-sufficient within six to eight months.

I sat down with Kate Foster, Volunteer Coordinator and Church Mobilizer, to learn more about the people that I would be picking up today and taking to the social security administration office (SS). She first asked did I speak Spanish; I instantly wished that I had become more fluent in the language as I had planned to years ago. She assured me that what I did know could be helpful. I knew she was right as I recalled my days of working as an Opryland Hotel guest services clerk when a coworker drafted me to check-in Spanish speaking guests who knew no English. Today, I would be working with a Somali man who spoke a little English and a Cuban couple that spoke no English.

After I left the World Relief office to pick up everybody up at their homes, I played out the anticipated scenes in my mind of me knocking on doors and making efforts for them to understand what I was there today. Upon my first arrival I was flipping through my instructions and searching my Google Translate app for key words that I would need for the day when the person that I came to pick up noticed me and smiled. I got out and managed to say his name that I had been practicing along my drive. He smiled and said, “Yes!”  I said the names of the forms that he needed to have for the SS office. He in turn, unfolded the paperwork that he had. I looked at it said yes and smiled.

Then we were off to pick up the couple. Getting into my truck, he and I struggled our way through communication. Once inside, I started up and my radio came on to University of Memphis’ WUMR – “The Jazz Lover.”  He paused, looked at my speaker, then back at me and smiled. At that point, I knew that everything was fine.

When I got to the couple’s home, I got out and went to the door. After my knock, I heard someone say something. But both language and muffled sound barriers were both playing against me. However, I shouted back, “World Relief.”  The wife opens the door. And motions for me to come in after I showed her paperwork that I could see looked familiar to her. She and I tried to communicate with each other, but we kept hitting walls. She reached to pick up what I could see was her notepad that she used for instances such as this. As he was doing this I paused and said, “Mi llamo Crista.”  She bounced up quickly with a smile and said her name as well. Excitedly, she continued speaking as if knowing because of my introduction that I would be able to responded. I tried. But soon I resorted to calling the World Relief office for a translator.

Prior to us leaving the husband motioned as if he were drinking something and said, “Coca-Cola.”  I smiled and said, “Yes!”  I stopped drinking sodas years ago and don’t remember the last time that I had a Coke. However, I took that one and drank it with a smile because of the joy that I had in understanding him with no complications and the pride that I saw he had in relaying his message to me.

At the SS office I got everybody checked-in and ensured that everyone was comfortable.  Experiencing a long wait just the same, I noticed a grandmother attempting to keep her granddaughter occupied as she answered question after question. In efforts to give the grandmother a rest for a moment or two, I asked the little girl if she could make a fan. She said no and I told her that I would teach her.

That was when someone else who had been waiting a while mentioned how she loved to make airplanes as a kid. After the little girl ran back to her grandmother with glee showing off her new fan, the grandmother looked at me with a smile that had thank you written all over it. I made an effort to keep the time moving for the people because me and my crew were about to leave. So I told the little girl to ask the other lady if she would show her how to make an airplane. Everyone smiled. As we left, I told them goodbye and to have a good day. The grandmother said, “You do the same and keep doing what you’re doing.”

I assume that she saw a little bit of what I had done when I helped the people that I brought to the office fill out their SS card applications. But having been exposed to and embraced the wisdom of mothers in my life, I could see that she read deeper into seeing me do the paperwork, get her granddaughter interested in something new and connecting more people to each other upon leaving the room.

It’s an energy that I carry with me, that I don’t necessarily realize is there because it’s something that has always been there. I don’t know life without it. However, when we left the office I realized and felt that energy as I smiled in what had previously been a somewhat cold room full of people that had probably been waiting for hours. I was more aware of what’s been called my infectious energy broke stoic faces that smiled back when I passed them with a smile.

 

Thank you for reading! Like what you read? With more than 10 years experience, Cristalynne Dupree is searching for a job where she will use her marketing, public relations and communications skill to coordinate strategies and tactics that will reach and engage the organization’s target audience.  Contact her at 1225Cristalynne@gmail.com or jobleads@volunteerodyssey.com.

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If you like our work, please donate to keep it going.

Want the insider story and more pictures? Connect with us on Facebook and Twitter!

Looking for great volunteer opportunities in Memphis? Check out our calendar of volunteer opportunities.

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Day 1: We will Rock You!

Hey now, it's the Memphis train!

Rock for Love to Benefit the Church Health Center  was my introduction to Volunteer Odyssey.  I wondered what to expect as I prepped for my day of supervising the children’s play area; then I thought of my countless previous volunteer experiences.  I knew that going in prepared to experience, learn and share was the best preparation for my day.  Upon my arrival set-up and sound check was taking place.   The day would be full of performances by Memphis musicians, including Idle&Wild, Knowledge Nick with Chinese Connection Dub Embassy and River City Tanlines.  Some of the artists utilize the services of Church Health Center.

I got photo bombed!

I got photo bombed by Kid President!!

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Founded in 2007, Rock for Love has grown from one concert to become the must-see concert weekend of the late summer with several concerts at multiple well-known venues. To date, Rock for Love has raised more than $200,000 for the Center.

Hey now, it’s the Memphis train!

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The Stax Music Academy takes the stage!

Gravity defying moments on the Grizzlies' moon bounce!

Gravity defying moments on the Grizzlies’ moon bounce!

I found Jerica Sandifer, CHC Development Scholar; she had been my point of contact for my Odyssey with her non-profit.  I then changed into my volunteer t-shirt to get my day started.  With that change, I instantly felt a part of the team.  Upon seeing “volunteer” on the back of my shirt, I was greeted by CHC staff.  The each thanked me for being a helping hand for the day.

I was stationed at the inflatable bounce sponsored by the Grizzlies; I ensured the safety of children.  In addition to some great laughs while watching the kids bounce in defiance of gravity, I also met and exchanged business cards with more CHC staff.  Richard Kohrs, Development Specialist, told me more about the CHC and answered questions about their services.

I knew beforehand that the CHC offered affordable health care to the Memphis and Shelby County residents.  However, Richard told me more about their plans and how they individualize these affordable plans to meet the needs of each person.  I learned that the CHC is a health resource for people such as entrepreneurs, musicians and people whose employers don’t offer medical insurance.  The CHC is on a mission to ensure “healthy bodies and spirits for all.”

My day at Rock for Love wrapped-up with experiencing the Stax Music Academy take the stage and move the crowd to a soulful beat!  With the heart, love and spirit that the put into their performance it didn’t even cross my mind that they were singing chart topping hits that were a few generations older than them such as, “Memphis Train,” “Love and Happiness” and “Hold On.”  The students engaged the crowd from the stage and on the floor as they danced with the audience and willingly taught eager fans the moves that they were willing to try with them.

It started with a little sprinkle while the Stax Music Academy was on stage; before they closed the sky opened with a heavy rain.  But the songs and the dances continued through storm.  I thought of some visual art that I created and printed with the quote, “Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass…it’s about learning to dance in the rain.”

Dancing in the rain with the Stax Music Academy also reminded me of the support system of the CHC for people that have a determination to live out their dreams of being an entrepreneur or possibly a musician.  Something like that comes with the realness of not having health care options, which could be a storm.  However, they have partners like the Church Health Center to dance with them in the rain.

I’m Cristalynne Dupree; feel free to call me Crista. I’m a Memphis “re-transplant” by choice.

Come back and check out my blog, keep me company along my Volunteer Odyssey Forward journey. Leave a comment; tell me what you think about my journey, it will be inspiring. Peace.

Thank you for reading! Like what you read? With more than 10 years experience, Cristalynne Dupree is searching for a job where she will use her marketing, public relations and communications skill to coordinate strategies and tactics that will reach and engage the organization’s target.  Contact her at 1225Cristalynne@gmail.com or jobleads@volunteerodyssey.com.

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If you like our work, please donate to keep it going.

Want the insider story and more pictures? Connect with us on Facebook and Twitter!

Looking for great volunteer opportunities in Memphis? Check out our calendar of volunteer opportunities.

Prelude: I see every ending as a new beginning.

Joie de vivre!

Greetings I’m Cristalynne Dupree or Crista.  I’m a Memphis “re-transplant” by choice because I admire the city’s drive for success.  I previously lived in Memphis, several years ago.  At that time, I was Marketing Administrative Assistant at Wolfchase Galleria.  Here I planned our annual Evening of Giving, bringing together Memphis non-profits in fundraising efforts, raising over $20,000.  Still, I continued to volunteer at the National Civil Rights Museum (NCRM), my first job after initially moving to the city.

I was involved in a traumatic automobile accident, tearing me away from Memphis to be under the care of family, in Jackson, TN.  Memphis remained in my heart, as my family ensured that I continued my physical therapy in Memphis, traveling between cities.

In addition to my full-time job in Jackson as an Admissions Counselor and Recruiter for Lane College – I continued being a staff writer for Memphis’ Grace Magazine.   Still, I was also an events volunteer for the NCRM and being a freelance marketing and public relations consultant for events and independent musicians, here in Memphis.

Prior to the aforementioned experiences, I developed and implemented a strategy to get back to the Crista that I knew, prior to my accident, active in my profession and in the community.  I jotted notes and brainstormed ideas for a Memphis non-profit.  These were ideas that focused on broad community engagement and adding to its national connection, as well as fundraising.  Overtime, I thought to myself that I owed that organization a lot.  That organization was there for me to brainstorm; I put those ideas on paper and it played a huge part in getting me back to the active self that I know.  The organization knows nothing of these thoughts or ideas.  Along my Volunteer Odyssey Forward, I hope to reconnect with these organizations – The Stax Museum of American Soul Music and The Stax Music Academy.

A job as a Marketing Specialist, for a MAAC, Inc. property, brought me back to Memphis. Ironically however, my property has been sold.  Therefore, I am on a job quest.  As a member, of Volunteer Odyssey Forward, I will be able to remain committed to my goal of being an active reliable community resource, while on my job search.  I’m on a mission to work on marketing, public relations and branding efforts to attract both volunteers and donors.  My passion is writing compelling communications that relays the story of a community organization, in efforts to make people aware of its successes and its needs.

My goal is to is to acclimate myself to the city and become an empowering community force.  I told Beverly Robertson, Executive Director of the NCRM, about my plan.  In turn, she nominated me to become a New Memphis Institute Fellow.  As a Fellow I have met some dynamic people with a drive to connect to the city as well as being positive and encouraging members of the community.

Come back and check out my blog, keep me company along my Volunteer Odyssey Forward journey.  Leave a comment; tell me what you think about my journey, it will be inspiring.

 

Thank you for reading! Like what you read? With more than 10 years experience, Cristalynne Dupree is searching for a job where she will use her marketing, public relations and communications skill to coordinate strategies and tactics that will reach and engage the organization’s target.  Contact her at 1225Cristalynne@gmail.com or jobleads@volunteerodyssey.com.

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If you like our work, please donate to keep it going!

Want the insider story and more pictures? Connect with us on Facebook and Twitter!

Looking for great volunteer opportunities in Memphis? Check out our calendar of volunteer opportunities.