Time for a New Journey

For the past decade, I’ve identified myself as first an activist.

At twenty three years old, only a year out of college, I find myself working a job to pay the bills rather than pursue my passions. However, I’m still an activist at heart. With my most recent volunteer position coming to a close, I’m hoping to find a new way to channel my energy. I plan on using this blog to document my progress and maybe even encourage others to volunteer their time or lend a hand to a campaign or two.

I like to think that I was meant to be an activist. It was when I was in 8th grade that my history teacher sparked an interest in me. I studied the women’s rights movement both in school and on my own time. I worked with my history teacher on a project for an organization which was collecting information about local women’s rights activists around the 1850s.

Not only did she inspire me academically, but she also was the first person to introduce me to the world of lobbying. As a class project turned into a small organization, we lobbied, raised funds, and publicized to get a skate park build in my town. Although I myself was not and never have been a skateboarder, it was a wonderful learning experience which gave me skills that I have used in every subsequent volunteer experience.

From there I went on to join Amnesty International at my high school, then at college. During my high school and college days I also volunteered with the Northeast regional branch of Amnesty in two different positions. In part because of my volunteering, and in part because of my two high school advisors, I grew as an activist and realized that this is what I should be doing, it’s what I need to be doing.

For the past year and a half, I’ve been a volunteer rape crisis counselor. My standard line when people ask about it is: Yes, it’s challenging, but it’s rewarding. While the majority of my work in the human rights arena is broad and removed from those who need help, that is not the case with the sexual assault work I have done. I was on the hotline, which means that people (not just women, I’ve also spoken to men – and children) call in when they need to talk to someone. You hear the voice of the person who needs help and you hear them hopefully calm down. Volunteering with the rape crisis center, for me, has rounded out my experience a bit.

Unfortunately, now that I’m working a full time job during work hours, I’ve been unable to keep up with some of the requirements to remain in this volunteer position. Although I’m upset about having to give this up when I don’t feel ready to do so, I’m hoping it’s a blessing in disguise. Maybe it means that it’s time to move on and find something new.

So that’s what I’m going to try to do. There are so many ways to help and now it’s time to explore my options!

What volunteer work do you do? What have you done in the past?


4 responses to this post.

  1. This is great that you started your own blog! I started one at jaredolen.com but haven’t posted much! Can’t wait to keep wordpress-stalking you!


  2. Posted by L on July 20, 2010 at 5:00 am

    I feel compelled to share the link to this organization, Imaginations Inc., so you can check them out as a possible means of volunteering and visiting a new country and/or continent. It’s unclear to me whether you have to be a current student or not to participate, but if you’re thinking of grad school, this could be a summer option: http://imaginationsinc.org/index.php

    The organization was created by two guys I went to high school with. Their current executive director is a lady I went to kindergarten with. 🙂

    I also wanted to ask if you had seen the previews for or heard about the documentary A Small Act: http://www.asmallact.com/

    As for the questions in your post — what volunteer work do I do and what have I done in the past — I am currently pretty strapped for time, so lately I have volunteered my financial support for a variety of organizations: several types of cancer research, animal welfare, disaster relief, preemie health, suicide prevention, wildlife conservation, and Catholic Charities. They are all causes that are dear to my heart or dear to the hearts of those dear to my heart. 🙂 In the past I have volunteered my time for several civic education organizations, nursing home music programs, child literacy programs, and homeless shelters/food kitchens. For better or worse, I tend to focus my volunteer money and time on causes where I feel a direct connection or see an immediate tangible result. That’s why I’m intrigued by the Small Act documentary and microfinance lending opportunities that organizations like Kiva (http://www.kiva.org) provide.

    Lastly, although not unpaid, I’m looking forward to embarking my career with a nonprofit organization in the fall.

    Keep asking questions. I, apparently, have lots to say. 😉


  3. Clearly I can be horrible with follow up, but I’m finally getting around to checking out those links. So thank you for your comment!

    I’ve heard good things about Kiva.


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