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!

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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.

Looking at the List #9

110. Watch every single Daria episode AND made-for-TV movie.

Daria finished its original run while I was just starting high school. How depressing. LUCKILY the N (home to some of my favorite high school shows, like Degrassi) showed reruns on a fairly regular basis. I spent many a track bus ride imitating many of the shows’ characters. Last time I checked, the show wasn’t on Netflix, so I eagerly await the day that someone gifts me a box set of the DVDs.

113. Visit Ground Zero.

I grew up outside New York City. I did all the “tourist” things as a kid. I avoided them more and more as I got older. As a result, I don’t remember the last time I saw the Twin Towers. They were just always in the background and then one day they weren’t. I haven’t been to Ground Zero yet and not because it’s a “tourist” thing. I view it as the opposite. It’s a New York thing. It’s a home thing. It’s a thing for all the people that lost their people that day. I was on a bus that rolled by once six years ago, but that’s the closest I’ve gotten. Now that I live farther from Manhattan, I don’t visit as often. I have a few New-York related items on my list, so hopefully I can find time to visit and knock all those items off my list!

122. Learn to pack like a pro.

I have two ways of packing. I either overpack or underpack. If I overpack, I wind up bringing tons of stuff that I won’t wear or use with me on my trip. If I underpack, I bring the same two sweaters with me and don’t have enough to put together a full outfit. I tend to pack more if I’m going somewhere farther away or plan on being gone for a long time. I’m incredibly jealous of the people walking through the airport with only a small tote. My next big trip is in two months and I’ve already started looking up packing tutorials so it doesn’t feel like I’m a pack mule in the airport. Let me know if you have any tips or tricks!!

A Quick Thanksgiving Update!

  • Prior to Thanksgiving, I took a quick trip to the Farmer’s Market AND donated a bunch of clothes! I hope to have the donation post up soon. The Farmer’s Market post is going to have to wait until I can go back and take more pictures than just one of me drooling over my first bubble tea since leaving Delaware.
  • While I was home, I cleaned out both my closet and dresser from my “In Between” bedroom. Trust me, this is a major accomplishment and I can definitely cross #115 off the list.
  • …I also watched every episode of Hoarders on Netflix which probably explains the first two items.
  • I decorated my Christmas tree the other day! I’m not going to count that as decorating for Christmas because I only have a tree and stockings up and in my mind, decorating for a holiday means going all out.
  • I missed Thanksgiving Eve due to some icy road conditions. I was upset at first but then I remembered how AWKWARD it is to see everybody that I used to not talk to in high school.
  • My mom, Lilly, and I set out with the intention of taking some Christmas card photos (#79!) but I’m almost 99% sure we’re going with a picture from last Christmas. Oops.
  • This month marks the first time that EVERY SINGLE ONE of my student loans is under it’s original balance (#31) so that’s another post!!
  • I successfully avoided Black Friday shopping and instead went to Stew Leonard’s which was delightfully NOT CROWDED. New tradition? I think so!

 

And now for some pictures from break!

Lilly and Jakey waiting for the turkey to drop!

Lilly and Jakey waiting for the turkey to drop!

One of Lilly's potential Christmas card pictures. Yes, we went to the beach on Black Friday as well.

One of Lilly’s potential Christmas card pictures. Yes, we went to the beach on Black Friday as well.

Mommy, Lilly, and me after our beach adventure.

Mommy, Lilly, and me after our beach adventure.

Posed Lilly in front of the Christmas tree like the proud mommy I am!

Posed Lilly in front of the Christmas tree like the proud mommy I am!

 

 

 

 

12. Find My Bucket List from 2001

When I started this blog, I remembered that back in 2001, I had used an extra binder to make some sort of bucket list/scrapbook-type thing. After I got back from Florida, I went to my parents’ house and looked for it. It wasn’t too hard to find…even after all my moves, it was still in my bedroom. I really wanted to see what was on my list back then and what (if anything) I had accomplished since then.

There's 13 year old me in the middle!!

There’s 13 year old me in the middle!!

Reading the list itself is rather amusing…it provides a little peak into the mind of thirteen-year-old-me. Graduating from both high school and college were really important to me. So was being a cheerleader and going to prom. Some of the things on the list seem really dated. I listed that I wanted to go on MTV TRL Studios. Does that show even exist anymore?! I also wrote that I wanted to make my own mix tapes or CDs and that I wanted to own a laptop some day. Owning a laptop was considered a big deal in 2001! I don’t even think my school had it’s laptop cart yet.

The one thing I always remembered from that list is that I wanted to keep a journal for five years straight. Well little me, I did you one better. I kept a journal for twelve years and I’m still going! In the beginning, I wrote mostly about things that happened during the day, but as I got older, I wrote more about how I felt about things. Every so often I go back and read it (it’s all online – heck yes!) and I am constantly amazed at how smart I sounded when I was younger. I don’t remember feeling that smart! And how on earth is my own advice still applicable five or eight years later?!

From my list of 50 things, I’ve accomplished 38. I’d say that’s pretty good considering that I nearly forgot about this list. Some of the things I HAVEN’T done include visiting all 50 states (only 21), meeting the President, and riding a horse. Oh, I also never got to go on TRL. Shucks.

Clearly my biggest regret.

I plan on adding some of these things to my list of things I’ve done…I definitely want to tell you all about the time I “met” Rachel Maddow. It’s a good one.