Note: This post kicks off this week’s series of writing from former Capstone students who are checking in with us here in a discussion about how to stay engaged in the community even with busy lives! My heartfelt thanks to all of the writers this week!
My name is Boone Reavis. I am currently in my last 2 weeks of my Undergraduate degree at PSU. I took Enhancing Literacy Capstone from Zapoura in the Fall of this past year. During the time of the class I was working 32-35 hours a week, applying to a very competitive Graduate Program, taking 12 credits of classes, acting in the role of President in an active student group, volunteering 1 hour a week in an unrelated to the capstone role, raising a 3 year old boy and trying to stay married. I include that in my introduction because I have been continually shocked at the amount I am able to accomplish. That Fall term was really instructive to me on a series of levels. Some positive, some not so much.
In the past I have spent very little time volunteering. I have really placed a high value on “me” time. I spent 5 or 6 years hanging out at coffee shops in my early 20’s. I am now 34 and I have discovered that although the “me” time I used to have isn’t as high a priority to me anymore. Now I have get an intense joy from helping others. In the last year or so I have spent time volunteering with the Special Olympics of Oregon and volunteering at a residential care facility for folks who have survived brain injuries. In addition, during my capstone I spent time tutoring high school kids at Parkrose High School.
I am pursuing a career in Speech Language Pathology and one of our scopes of practice includes literacy. During my time at Parkrose High School I realized that I don’t want to work with kids. Don’t get me wrong, kids are great, I love mine but I have a true passion in life that is more focused on eliminating isolation. I discovered that I would find more satisfaction eliminating isolation when working with the elderly. Integrating this passion into volunteering proved relatively easy for me. I am so excited because the perfect opportunity came up for me and I wasn’t even really looking. My wife and I are going to be a team of Long Term Care Ombudsman through the state of Oregon. Our training starts next month. This has been in the works for 6 months. This means that we will be advocates for residents of long term care facilities. How this is the perfect opportunity for me is that it is a volunteer position that my wife and I can share and support each other in. Weaving this into my future educational and professional has been pretty seamless as well. When I mentioned to a professor at my new grad school what I am doing she informed me of a grant that she was working on and has invited me to participate and work with Alzheimer patients.
This last year has been a rocky road for sure. I only allow myself 23 minutes of tv a day (the Daily Show on Hulu) and there are times when I really resented having to show up to give my precious time to people who didn’t care if I showed up or didn’t show up themselves. Those times sucked! So did the times when I chose to not show up and didn’t have the courage to call and cancel. No changing that but I will say that the times when I would show up and nobody else was there and if I didn’t show up, no one would have been there to help them. Those times felt good. There have been other times when I received a genuine “thank you” from somebody who has to use their energy very judiciously, meaning they struggle to communicate at all. Other times when I got to reassure somebody that they didn’t look weird and belonged with the rest of us. Those are the times I think of when I don’t want to show up to the volunteering commitments because it is so heartwarming to see someone participate in life when they were previously struggling.
I am really interested in hearing how your experience has been volunteering. Have you discovered a special skill you didn’t know you had that you think you can apply in helping others while adding to your career path? Or, like me, did you discover something about yourself that help you direct yourself away from certain opportunities and towards others?
One of the things I have discovered is that nearly every nonprofit you have ever heard of will need some volunteer help. I recently (Friday) ran an auction for my student group and I depended on volunteer help for ALL the labor, creative and misc. help to make the evening a success. If they weren’t around there is no way it would have happened. What skills could you use to help an organization/cause that you are passionate about?
For example, did you know that you can run with young girl, if you are a woman. An organization called Girls on the Run (http://www.girlsontherunpdx.org/index.html) help girls develop confidence, get them active and create social networks. All you would do as a volunteer is run with them 2 times, one of them is the Starlight Run on June 1st. But that is it! As a volunteer you just run. You don’t need to know Excel or Power Point or anything else.
So what are some ways you can get involved in ANY causes?
Thanks and ask any questions that occur to you
I will leave you with one of my favorite volunteering philosophies:
We do if for fun, for free and in secret.