Junior League

I leave for my big Joplin trip tomorrow, so I figure I’ll just keep going with this week’s theme of volunteering!

Before I joined the Junior League, I had several different “pictures” of it in my mind. The first image that came to mind was a bunch of rich old ladies that wanted to do something good with all of their time and money. Next, I imagined a bunch of bored, rich, housewives…that view may have had something to do with “The Help“. So when somebody recommended that I join Junior League as a way to make friends, I was completely baffled! I didn’t think that I was old enough to join Junior League. But I decided to give it a try – at the very least, I thought I could maybe get some babysitting jobs out of it.

At my first meeting, I quickly learned that Junior League was NOTHING like I imagined. Yes, there were some rather well-off older women and some stay-at-home moms, but there were also working moms and single moms and unmarried professional women and recent college grads. Even though everybody had joined Junior League for different reasons, everybody supported our Junior League’s mission of helping kids in the Reading school district.

Similar to a sorority, my first year in Junior League I was considered a new member. We were welcome at the general meetings but also had our own new member meetings and planned a new member project. The ultimate goal of your new member year is to become familiar with ALL aspects of Junior League so that you can easily serve on a committee your next year.

I’m currently in my first active year and I am on the New Member Committee, so I am still attending all of the new member meetings and teaching the new members about Junior League. Each year you get “placed” with a different committee and while we don’t find out our placements until May, I’ve had a few people ask if I would be interested in a certain position, so I have a feeling where I’ll be heading next year!

Unfortunately with my work schedule, I haven’t been able to GO to every volunteer opportunity, but I try to help out behind the scenes. Last month I was able to spend most of my Saturday volunteering at Junior League’s Young Women’s Summit. Each year, the Junior League invites teenage girls from the Reading school district to come together for a weekend to learn leadership skills and discuss how they can improve their community. It was really fun to go an interact with the girls, but my favorite part was chatting with a former attendee that is now going to college and doing all sorts of awesome things. She came back to speak to the girls about her experiences prior to and during the summit. It was really emotional but at the end of her presentation, all of the current attendees told her how brave she was and that they looked up to her and admired her because she had worked hard, despite everything else going on in her life.

Joining Junior League has not only allowed me to meet people, but it has been an awesome way to get to know Reading and the surrounding areas. I’m excited to see what comes next!

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Volunteering

This was originally going to be part of my “Manic Monday” post, but as I started writing, I realized it was easily turning into it’s own post! Volunteering is something that helps me get involved in my new communities as I move, so I’m more than happy to write an entire post on it!

The first time I can remember volunteering was when I was maybe nine or ten. I was with my Girl Scout troop and we were helping to pack boxes at the local food bank. I knew the boxes were going to “poor people” but I didn’t think they were in my own town. One of the girls from the troop wound up sneaking a peak at the list of families getting these packages and all of the sudden she blurted out, “C—, why is your family on this list?!” We were all so stunned! I remember being appalled by the one girl’s behavior – she was going out of her way to look at a confidential list, which was bad enough, but then to call a “friend” out in front of everybody?? I couldn’t believe it. I was also shocked that a family from our town, let alone a family I knew, needed help. It made me realize that you can’t always “see” when somebody is in need of help.

Through Girl Scouts and various other programs, I frequently volunteered in my community until I graduated high school. My favorite opportunity from Connecticut was to help out at a summer school/day camp for students with special needs. These students ranged anywhere from having really hard to control ADHD all the way to having severe mental disabilities. Several students didn’t speak at all. When I went to college, it was harder to find ways to volunteer. I was living in a brand new community, so I didn’t know WHERE to look for these opportunities. My contributions at that time were limited to helping out with food drives.

My sorority highly values both service and philanthropy. By this point, service was an old hat, but philanthropy was something completely new to me. I was a broke college kid – I had never donated my (non-existent) money to any cause and I had never run any sort of fundraiser. My pledge class and I collected cans to raise money for a local animal shelter and my senior year, I was Mr. RIT chair! I was still able to help out my hometown as well – one of my pledge sisters was from my hometown and shortly before Christmas one year, we held an event at the house to make Christmas cards which we then distributed to nursing home residents at my grandma’s nursing home.

Mr. RIT 2009

When I started at the University of Delaware, I quickly found ways to volunteer. I hosted a “Day of Service” project my first year which gave me one of my favorite UD memories – we ran out of bread for the “PB&J Jam”, so I ran out to buy more. When I returned, it was POURING so I asked some RAs to meet me at the door. The RAs and residents participating in the program actually made a line stretching from my car into the building and passed everything down fireman brigade style. I WISH I had a picture of it. Back then, “Day of Service” was only complex-wide, but it soon became a campus event and now various alumni groups hold their own service events the same day that UD is hosting Day of Service. This year I met up with some alum from Reading to volunteer at an animal shelter.

My favorite organization that I got involved with at UD was the Andrew McDonough B+ (Be Positive) Foundation. I had heard Andrew’s story years and years prior when I was still going to RIT. My then-boyfriend was from Wilmington and had siblings that had attended school with Andrew. The B+ Foundation’s goal is to raise money for children’s cancer research and to assist families with expenses they are unable to cover. I got to personally meet Joe McDonough twice during my time at UD – the first time he came to speak to my staff as we were racing money for UDance and the second time I invited him to come to speak at Widener University during my internship. My favorite part about working with B+ is that they emphasize that every little bit helps. At Widener, Joe McDonough told the story of how just $400 was able to get a little girl a portable oxygen container so she could fly home and spend her final days at her own house with her family members and dog.  I really hope I get to work with B+ again.

Since moving to Reading, I’ve continued to volunteer in my community and in other parts of the country. I joined Junior League a few months after moving here and have been able to help with several organizations that serve the children of Reading. I’m planning on doing a separate post on Junior League later this week! I was also asked by my students to be a trip advisor for Alternative Spring Break. I said yes without even knowing where I was going to be going or what I was going to be doing. I wound up going to Joplin, Missouri to help with two organizations and in just a few days, I’ll be heading back!! I’m super excited and Joplin is DEFINITELY getting its own post! 

If you have any favorite volunteer stories, be sure to leave them in the comments!

With a D and an E…

It’s Formal Recruitment Week at Albright! As much as I dread this week each year, I also love it. Nothing makes me happier than to see everybody jumping around on Bid Day and making memories that will last a lifetime. Recently I’ve had a bit more involvement with my sorority sisters – I’m going to be seeing some in a few weeks for Formal AND I was assigned a new member pen pal!! To continue my “everything sorority” obsession, I just finished the book “Sorority Sisters” by Claudia Welch and LOVE LOVE LOVED IT. It reminded me not only of my friends that I made through my sorority, but my friends that I made from the music department and still keep in touch with to this day. I seriously wanted to call every single person once I finished that book. Since I don’t exactly have the time to write an entirely new post, I’ve taken bits and pieces from a post I wrote for another site back in the day! Enjoy!

Why I THINK I Joined a Sorority

It’s no secret that I was in a sorority during my time at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT). Unlike some of the people I joined with, I haven’t “outgrown” it. I still try to get back for larger events and while I don’t keep in touch with everybody, I do my best to keep in touch with those I was closest with. One of my friends from Junior League said that she goes on a trip with her entire pledge class every year. Eighteen women. Ten years. That’s kind of awesome.

Probably my favorite picture from the trip!

Me, my big, and my little in Disney World. We’re trying to make an annual trip a thing.

People frequently asked why I joined a sorority. Now, I’ll be the first to admit that it was never my intention to join a sorority. In fact, I spent most of my first year hating the sororities at RIT because one put a bad taste in my mouth. I’ve found that my answer to that question has changed over the past few years, probably because my feelings towards my sorority have changed. I’m not saying there was ever a point where I didn’t like it, not at all! It’s just that being active is very different that being an alum.

(Some of) my wonderful boys! The closest thing I had to a sorority…before joining and sorority.

I think I first joined because I really didn’t have any female friends. I am still super close with the guys I spent most of undergrad with (we have yearly vacations!) but let me tell you, things get awkward FAST when you’re on a day trip with all guys and realize that you need a tampon. There was only so much that I could talk about with my guy friends, especially if (when) it involved GUY DRAMA… #awkwardcollegeproblems.

Bid Day!

As I got closer to my last preference night ritual, I realized that I was going to have to tell all these potential new members about why I joined my sorority. This was towards the end of my senior year and I had been reflecting on the past four years, including my rough transition from high school to college. Something that one of my home friends said to me that first year seemed to apply to my joining a sorority…I was a fish that was always looking for a bigger pond. Once I got comfortable with being at college, I needed to find a new challenge. That challenge was joining a sorority and thrusting myself into a new group of people that I had never met before….because you know, that hadn’t happened enough my freshman year. So at that last ritual, I told all these girls that I joined to take on something new…and let me tell you, my sorority let me try TONS of new things!

I was Mr. RIT Chair and even wound up on the news!

Now that I have been out for a few years, I think I joined because I NEEDED sisters. I’m an only child and very recently had to see my mother and her siblings care for their aging mother. They struggled. There’s only one of me. It terrifies me to know that some day I will have to take care of my parents without any help. Not to mention the mere idea of not having parents…at least if you have siblings you have SOMEBODY. I have tons of close friends, but at the end of the day they have their siblings. Heck, even most of my sisters have actual sisters. I know that my sorority sisters will always have my back, but I still always wanted somebody that was just mine…and then I met my big. My big is also an only child. She has cousins that she is close with, but while many people go to older siblings for advice and to talk about important stuff, my big and I have each other. She’s put up with me hating…just about everything and I’ve helped her navigate surviving life after college ends (side note – that would be an AMAZING book title…just saying) and we bounce ideas back and forth constantly.

My big and I at her graduation party. Sometimes, we wear our hair the same way.

Just like I didn’t (and still don’t) have a set reason for joining a sorority, there are MANY reasons to go Greek. There are still so many negative perceptions out there and I nearly fell for them! I always encourage students to check it out…the worst that is going to happen is you won’t like it. If any of my lovely sisters are reading this, please comment below so I know you’re out there! If you’re a student reading this, check out the Greek Life at your college!!

Hamming it up at 15 Year.

Twist-a-thon!

My unplanned attendance at a Cops and Robbers social.

 

 

 

 

 

Snow Day!

We’ve had two snow days and a delayed opening this week! The last time I missed this much school because of snow, it was 2001!

RIT was notorious for NEVER CLOSING. My freshman year, the first day of fall quarter was Labor Day and the last day of the quarter was Veteran’s Day. You know, days that my high-school-self was used to having off. After awhile, I accepted never having holidays off. But you know what I really missed? Snow days. There was something special about a snow day. A snow day was always such a nice, unexpected surprise.

But RIT was in Western New York. On average, the city gets over 90 inches of snow each winter. Plus the area around campus was pretty flat, so it was much easier to drive around than my neighborhood in Connecticut. I quickly got used to walking to school in all sorts of weather. I also became a pro at layering! Pro tip? Wear sweatpants OVER your jeans/leggings/normal pants so that if you want to take a layer off, it’s the outer one.

Bye Pam, don’t get lost in a blizzard!

One Martin Luther King Day, I woke up to my roommate Tiffany crouched next to the side of my bed. “School’s closed!” she said. “No it’s not,” I said as I rolled away from her. She explained that there was an ice storm and Monroe County made us close down. I still didn’t believe her, but I reached for my laptop, checked my email, and sure enough, RIT was closed. The next thing I checked was Facebook, which of course was filled with…wait I’m not even sure statuses were a thing. But you know what I mean! I remembered that I set an away message about my day off, to which my non-RIT friends replied, “Of course you have today off, it’s Martin Luther King Day.” Sigh.

 

Found this bad boy on Facebook. Oh the glory days!

Since it was technically an ICE day and not a SNOW day, we didn’t get to do any of the fun things like go sledding, have snowball fights, or build inappropriate snow sculptures. I remember being able to enjoy the day with my roommates. The other thing I remember about that day was meeting our weird neighbors. They set the fire alarm off, so our whole row had to wait outside in the ice storm. Lovely. Luckily one of us was parked nearby, so we waited inside a car.

This is probably the only reason I have pictures of our ice day.

During the rest of my time at RIT, I remember there being a few times that afternoon/evening classes were cancelled, but no whole day events. I’ve been enjoying these past few days, but I’m hoping the weather stops being so crazy in time for recruitment and my upcoming trip to Rochester!

Ready? Okay!

(Truth – the only time those words have come out of my mouth, they have been completely sarcastic!)

I was never a girl-y girl. I swear, if I went back in time and told my 12 year old self that my twenty-something self became a cheerleader, joined a sorority, and was obsessed with Lilly Pulitzer, my 12 year old self’s head would explode. I’m starting at my closet right now. My eye is twitching a bit from the amount of pink.

So getting back on track. I became a cheerleader. I’m not sure exactly how it started, but I think it started with my friends renting the movie “Bring it On” when I was in eighth grade. Most of my friends at that point were cheerleaders, so we spent this gathering learning the dances and cheers from the movie. I think I still have the opening cheer memorized. Within weeks, the high school that we were all planning on attending announced that they were holding cheerleading tryouts AND that it was open to incoming students. I had absolutely no intentions of playing any sports in high school, unless you count “competitive saxophone-ing” as a sport but somehow I got suckered into it. I might have spouted off that “cheerleaders are dancers gone retarded” line in front of my friends one too many times. Now if I hadn’t made the team, this post would not exist. I won’t bore you by telling you about tryouts. I can’t really remember the nitty gritty details anymore. I just know that it was winter and I was dancing in the cafeteria to Britney Spears and then next thing I knew, it was summer and I was going to the high school for cheerleading camp. ME. CHEERLEADING CAMP.

Somehow, I made it through that year with only minor humiliation one truly embarrassing story. There was all sorts of drama, including a last minute coaching change. The following year, I didn’t return. Don’t get me wrong – I have some wonderful memories from that year. I really enjoyed it. But at the end of the day, I had to choose between cheerleading and everything else I loved. And I chose everything else. And I enjoyed that too.

Unfortunately, I had been bitten by the cheerleading bug. It came in handy sometimes. When my friends needed to reach something high, they’d quickly throw me in the air to get it. When CMT announced that it was doing a show about the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders, I was GLUED to the TV. I was regularly doing parts of the DCC’s routines in my parents’ living room. I thought it was all I was going to get until I had a little girl of my own and could coach a pop warner team.

Fast forward a few years to my first second week of college. I started seeing posters advertising – GUESS WHAT – tryouts! I hadn’t cheered in AGES but I still decided to give it a go. For being such a large college, there was a surprisingly small number of girls trying out. Similar to my high school days, tryouts were a week long – the first part was spent learning different routines and the second part was the actual audition. I didn’t tell anybody what I was doing. I wanted to surprise my friends and family. Some people were planning on visiting in October, so I had to keep it a secret until then, but I wound up quitting the team before any of my friends could arrive on campus. I couldn’t afford the uniforms and the shoes and everything else.

Fast forward a few more years. While watching “Making the Team” one night, I suddenly had the craziest idea. I live near a major city with an NFL team. What if I tried out just one more time? I went through with this insane idea. I drove to Philly for different workshops and got to meet the coach and the returning cheerleaders – it was a pretty awesome experience! Very early on I realized that I had a very, very minuscule chance of making the team. I was competing with girls that were DANCE MAJORS. But I stuck it out just to say that I did it. Surprisingly, they waited until the second round to cut me. A benefit of going through the process – I was in the best shape of my life at the end of it and I wound up with an impressive collection of make up.

I chatted with the one in the front!

 

Now, at the ripe old age of 26, I have officially retired from cheerleading. Yes, I still watch “Making the Team” and occasionally I break out one of my old workout videos, but I will not be hauling my butt to Philly (or any other city) for auditions any time soon.

So THAT’S Victoria’s Secret!

For the past few year’s, Victoria’s Secret has been running their “Secret Rewards” promotion around the holidays. If you make a purchase in November, you’re given a card worth something between $10 and $500, except at the time you don’t KNOW how much is on the card. In December, you can find out the balance and basically use it as a gift card – you’re not required to spend a minimum amount when redeeming it.

Now, I’m not the type to win anything. Ever. Every time I’ve gotten a Secret Rewards card in the past, it’s been $10 which is great and all except that everything in the store costs more than $10. And I didn’t really NEED anything so I’d just go in a buy something and spend mostly my own money. Which is exactly what they want.

BUT NOT THIS TIME.

I nearly forgot about the Secret Rewards card I got last month. I was cleaning my apartment just DAYS before it expired when I saw it sitting on my desk. I wanted to see how much it was worth, but I didn’t feel like going to the store. I looked online to see if the different codes meant anything, but instead I found out that you could go on the site and put something in your shopping bag and then enter the code from your card to see how much it was worth. So I did just that. And found out that my card was worth $100.

$100 can actually buy you something at Victoria’s Secret. I’m super weird about gifts and I actually had a hard time picking things out. I still wound up adding a bit of my own money, but way less than in previous years! So what did I get? Check it out below!

This robe, but in pink!

This robe, but in pink!

This bra. It's from the Fashion Show. I'm that cool.

This bra. It’s from the Fashion Show. I’m that cool.

Lilly Billy

On the first day of my last year of college, I wrote a small to do list. What was on it? “Write resume, get job, get apartment, get dog.” Those were my goals for the next year. I eventually did all of those things, although it might have taken me longer than a year.

This was the day I adopted Lilly.

This was the day I adopted Lilly.

My dog Lilly is turning three this month. She’s a dachshund mix and we’re pretty sure “mix” includes beagle and jack russell. She’s the absolute perfect size for apartment living and it makes me so happy to come home to her after a long day of work.

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Of course, Lilly herself isn’t perfect…but I will tell anybody who listens that she is! Lilly came from a shelter and was abused in the past so she’s not the best when she meets new people. Eventually she calms down if I hold her, but if she smells cigarette smoke, all bets are off. Honestly, I’m still learning new things about her every day. She’s scared of the weirdest things…including trash cans.

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Lilly also has Diabetes Insipidus. It’s not your run-of-the-mill Stacey-from-the-Baby-Sitters-Club diabetes. Lilly’s body doesn’t make the hormone/enzyme that processes water so she’ll drink and drink and drink and pee and pee and pee. Luckily they make a synthetic version that I give her twice a day that helps with it, but you can definitely tell when it starts to wear off! I have to be careful when I schedule things – if I don’t give her her medicine, she’ll drink all of the water from her cage bowl and pee in her cage. I’m always worried about if she’s getting dehydrated or if she’s uncomfortable.

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Even if Lilly didn’t have some rare disorder, having a dog is hard work! I keep hoping that one day Lilly will suddenly grasp the concept of the toilet, but she has not. Snowing? Gotta take the dog out. Pouring? Gotta take the dog out. There was just a mugging down the block? Still gotta take the dog out. Dogs can also cost quite a bit of money – just like a person she needs food and medicine and bedding. You should definitely take all of these things into consideration before you decide to get a dog! Remember – different breeds require different things!

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I absolutely love my little weirdo – coming home from work has gotten 10x better now that I have Lilly to greet me! Happy (early) 3rd Birthday Baby Girl!