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!

Advertisements

It’s Just Another Manic Monday…

I don’t think I’ve done anything off my list since Christmas…and I haven’t written those posts yet! At the rate I’m going, I should just save them for next Christmas…

I clearly haven’t been writing so what have I been up to? Well, first off work has been CRAZY!! Recruitment was a few weeks ago and since then I’ve been really busy with housing selection stuff. There’s also a LOT of changes going on in the office. I’ve been coming home and doing work (after work) and honestly by the end of the night all I want to do is watch TV and lay around with the dog. Here are some other things that have been on my mind or keeping me busy…

Tropical Vacations

It seems like EVERYBODY has been off on some tropical vacation recently! Carly (aka The College Prepster) was just in the Dominican Republic, my friends are off in the Caribbean (jealous), and from what I’ve seen on Instagram lately, Sarah Vickers from “Classy Girls Wear Pearls” and her handsome fiance KJP are on some beach somewhere. Meanwhile…I’m heading to Missouri.

I had so much fun on my vacation with my big and my little last fall that we’ve been talking about planning another trip. We definitely can’t afford Disney again any time soon, but some ideas that we’ve thrown around include a cruise, California, and some sort of beach vacation. By this time last year, we had a lot of details worked out for our October vacation, so we should probably start looking into that soon…

Thirty-One Bags

Recently I’ve been seeing EVERYBODY carrying Thirty-One bags. They’re perfect for if you have to drag a ton of crap around (which I do) and they’re really cute – you can pick different prints and even have the bags monogrammed! I’m a big fan of the “Zip Top Utility Tote“. I’d love to have one to carry all my work stuff around. It’s one of those companies that you have a “party” to order things, so maybe I’ll have one…eventually…when I have time…so after graduation!

The Gym

Back in January, I did join a gym. I’m trying to go three times a week and get in some sort of groove, but my work schedule (not to mention the weather) has been all over the place, so I really don’t have any sort of routine. Coming up with a workout routine that works for me is on my list (#84!) so this is an area that I’m definitely going to work on in the coming months!

102. Print out pictures that I’ve taken and display them.

I might be dating myself here, but some of my favorite days in middle school were the days after a field trip. Why the day after? Because everybody would have taken their rolls of film to get developed and a good portion of the day would be spent passing around those little envelopes filled with pictures. I remember spending HOURS organizing my photo album so my favorite pictures were all in there.

Unfortunately with the invention of Facebook, my favorite one hour photo place took a major hit. Instead of passing around a pile of pictures, now you could click through them while not paying attention during an Art History lecture. Now there are even MORE ways to share pictures. I swear, I have like eight different accounts just to see people’s pictures.

And then came Shutterfly. For those of you not familiar with Shutterfly, it’s a company that lets you upload and print pictures and photo gifts like mugs and calendars and cell phone cases. I’ve used them to print photos for YEARS, but I’ve also made photo books and Christmas cards. My two favorite things about the company is the frequency that they send me coupons and the ability to print to Target. I’ve gotten some AWESOME coupons since I’ve signed up as a Shutterfly member. I printed a photo book for last year’s Joplin trip and shortly after Christmas, they sent me a coupon for 101 free prints…hence this entry.

So with that coupon, I was able to print some pictures from the past few years. The next step was figuring out how to display them. I have quite a few pictures in frames in my living room, but with all the effort I spent hanging them, they’re not coming down until I move out. I wanted something cute, but also easy so I could change the pictures frequently…maybe that will encourage me to print more!

I wound up creating a display above my bed, as my bedroom didn’t have very much decoration. I’ve got some colored twine taped up with hair bows clipped at the end to disguise the tape. The pictures are clipped to the twine with clothes pins. Very Pinterest!

My newest picture display!!

My newest picture display!!

In other decorating news, I did attempt to fix the gallery wall in my living room, and the frame that holds my concert tickets promptly fell down. Again. I also thing I can do more with my bedroom. With as much as I’ve moved around, I always feel like once I have “finished” decorating, it’s time to packet it all up and move again!

Looking at the List #10

It’s been nearly a month since I wrote a “Looking at the List” post. I should probably get these posted…you know, before I actually accomplish these things! I’m cutting it close with one of these…

124. Create a display for my nail polish.

I love nail polish. It might be fair to say I have an obsession. I used to hate painting my nails because it would look terrible from the start and then chip and look even worse. As I got older, I started buying nicer polish and became more patient when actually painting my nails. Now, my nails are painted almost 99% of the time! Of course this means that I have a rather extensive nail polish collection…currently they live in a box in my bathroom, but I would love to be able to showcase them in a creative (but functional) way.

131. Test drive a car.

I’ve never owned a new car. I’ve never even had the chance to look at cars…all have mine have come from family members, co-workers, and family friends. The only time I have ever “test driven” a car was when I was sixteen. My parents were about to purchase a third car and were going to buy one off from one of their friends. It was his mother’s car and she was no longer able to drive. The car was in decent shape and we met up with them at a local catering hall (the Amber Room for you Connecticut folks) and because the original idea was for me to drive the used car, they let me test drive it around the neighborhood. Clearly I was a cool sixteen year old. Right now, I’m hoping I WON’T need to buy a new car before I’m thirty. I drive a Corolla right now and those things seem to run forever. I do think it would be fun to visit a car lot and take something fancy out for a test drive…but I don’t even know how that process works! 

133. Volunteer with Art Feeds again.

Last year I traveled to Joplin, Missouri with an Alternative Spring Break group. We volunteered with two organizations – Art Feeds and Rebuild Joplin. I absolutely loved my trip there and I especially loved working with Art Feeds. I would love to someday start a chapter wherever I am living. When I was coming up with my list, I knew that I wanted to go back and help out again some day – I just didn’t think that day was going to come so soon! Shortly after I added #133 to my list, I was approached by students asking me to be a trip advisor for Spring Break 2014. I’m so excited to head back and I can’t wait to see what we will work on this year!!

An Update on #97

97. Get my hair back to its healthy pre-bleach state.

The last time I saw my hair in it’s natural state was sometime in the early 2000s. It was red and very curly. Annnndddd I hated it. My mom (along with Baz Lurhmann) always warned me that I was going to kill my hair if I kept doing so much to it, and while I really hate to admit it, she was right.

For the longest time, I didn’t do TOO much to it. I used non-permanent dye to dye it darker and I would straighten it occasionally. then I started straightening it more. And then I started bleaching it. Eventually I noticed that it didn’t look as healthy as it once had. It seemed really thin and what really scared me was that my hair no longer curled.

I decided last spring that I really needed to start taking better care of my hair. I went through a six week period where I stopped straightening my hair. Since my hair didn’t curl properly anymore, I just wore it up a lot. It wasn’t attractive. I’ve since gone back to straightening it, but I haven’t bleached it since last March. I am still dying it, but I’m back to using a non-permanent dye that’s just slightly darker than my normal hair color. People ask why dye it at all – if I didn’t I’d have this HUGE line between bleach-blonde and my dark red hair. Then people ask why I don’t just do it once permanently instead of dyeing it once instead of every two – three months – I was given this big explanation by a hairdresser once that I can’t fully remember but apparently permanent dye still has some bleaching agent in it.

In the past month I’ve noticed that my hair has looked healthier. It feels thicker and less damaged. I’m not ready to say that it’s back to its original state, but I’m getting there!! I’m really bad about getting regular trims because I’m always afraid they’ll take too much off, but I think the next step is to get a trim…yikes! Hopefully a year from now I’ll be posting saying that my hair is MUCH healthier!

This was four years ago…I think this was the best my hair ever looked!!

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.

 

 

 

 

 

A Haunting in Pennsylvania

I read the Wikipedia article for “The Haunting in Connecticut” after I typed the title. That was probably a poor idea.

My apartment is haunted. I’m sure everybody says that their place of living is haunted at one point or another. You misplace something or hear a strange noise and BAM! Haunted! I think I’ve even made jokes about my apartment being haunted before. Just as recently as last week, I referred to the strange noise that the fridge makes as “the aliens in the kitchen” (okay, so not ghosts, but still paranormal).

Before we get into the good stuff, a bit of necessary back story. About five months after my roommate Lilly moved in, one of my neighbors complained that she barked a lot. This surprised me because Lilly’s rather quiet, considering what she’s mixed with. My mom actually thought that something might be wrong with her because she didn’t bark for the first three weeks I had her. She’s since become a bit more vocal and barks at normal dog things, like when the doorbell rings on a TV show, but I was certain that she did not spend all day barking. I was told that I needed to do something about it, so I wound up buying the Dog Monitor app. My iPad sits in the kitchen watching the door and I can check in on her via my iPhone. I’ve had the app for a few months now, so I’ve gotten pretty good about recognizing certain sounds and knowing where they are coming from. (Oh and in case you were wondering, the dog doesn’t spend all day barking.)

Lilly in her cage during the day. This is what the Dog Monitor app shows me.

Recently, I had an incident where somebody entered the apartment without my knowledge. I was at work and heard someone knocking on the door, followed by someone keying in and yelling, “Hello?” It was just a man from the alarm company, but it scared Lilly and she became not the biggest fan of cage time after that incident. However, I would have never known that it had happened had it not been for my trusty Dog Monitor.

This is Lilly doing her best impersonation of Dobby the House Elf.

Last week, something even more disturbing happened. I was at work when all of the sudden I started hearing this music. It wasn’t a song or tune that I recognized. My co-worker Melissa described it best – she said it sounded like a music box. It was also rather loud. My first thought was that some link I had clicked had music on auto-play. I checked my browser real quick, but nothing there. Then I noticed that my phone was lit up. I picked it up and sure enough the music was coming from my phone through the Dog Monitor app. (I know it sounds absolutely crazy and I’m glad that Liz and Melissa heard it as well otherwise I’d probably have myself committed.) The music lasted about a minute. I’ve tried to come up with some rational explanation for it, but I can’t. It was too long to be someone’s cell phone and the monitor wouldn’t have picked up on it unless it was in the apartment. I don’t know how it could have been an electronic in my apartment – the TV would have needed to turn itself on and then off. I tried to put it out of my mind and carry on with my day.

When I got home from work, I decided to straighten my hair. When I sat down at my dressing table, I noticed that there was a crack in the glass on my jewelry box. I sit at that table every day to do my hair and makeup and had not noticed the crack that morning. I remembered that I had taken a picture of my table a few days prior, so I checked the picture. No crack. I looked around the jewelry box. Nothing had fallen on it, at least nothing that was still out of place. I remembered the strange music from earlier in the day and called my friends. And then, instead of straightening my hair at my apartment, I shoved my stuff into a bag and got ready at a friend’s house. I did not want to be in that apartment!

They say bad things come in threes and the third is what made me finally call security. Before my shower last night, I went to put my earrings into my jewelry box. Yes, the one with the broken glass. When I opened the box, I saw that all of the contents had shifted as if someone had picked it up and tilted it. I normally don’t go into this box, so contents should have been organized instead of laying in a heap. The only logical explanation that I could think of was that someone entered my apartment while I was at work…and seriously at this point I prefer the idea of a burglar to a ghost!

So then I had to send the weirdest email of my life…how exactly do you tell someone that your apartment was either broken into (but nothing was taken) or a supernatural being has taken up residence without coming off as crazy?? Luckily security thought it was just as weird as I did and they sent someone over to make sure that my door wasn’t busted or anything. But seriously how crazy is that?! Melissa invited me to sleep over her apartment, but I decided to be brave lazy and stay in my own bed. Lilly’s at my parents’ for the week, so I was a bit nervous that I wouldn’t have her to protect me, but I survived the night! Too bad “having a totally freaky experience” wasn’t on The List…could have crossed one more off!