Wednesday, November 30, 2011
A Good Day
The summer after I turned seventeen I started volunteering once a week at a small, local nonprofit. It was a small house in a park and it served as a day space for homeless folks to get a cup of coffee, take a shower, do some laundry and meet with the Outreach workers who were working to get them into housing. I loved it so much that when school started I successfully petitioned my high school* to let me volunteer there on Mondays instead of going to school. I was there once a week for a year; at the time their only volunteer. My time there is what I remember most about my senior year of high school. The staff became my mentors and friends, and the integrity and kindness they exhibited fundamentally shaped my worldview.
Then I left for college. As I grew, so did they. On visits home I saw the organization inhabit two different buildings, each larger than the next, and I heard about new and exciting programs.
When I moved back to Portland nine years later I started volunteering again. The building was bigger and nicer, some of of the staff I"d know where gone, and there many, many other volunteers. A lot had changed, but I was heart-warmed to see that the fundamentals of the organization remained the same. The character and conscience that shaped my outlook as a high schooler were still being lived every day, to a frankly awe-inspiring extent.
On my 29th birthday D$ and I attended the organization's second-ever "fancy" evening fundraising event. I dragged D$ over to the table where they'd posted their Values and Principles. He was so impressed he got teary-eyed and took a photo of them with his phone. Then, for the first time in my life, I gave a significant financial donation to a organization that I fundamentally believe in.** It was a good day.
Today, I became the newest (and youngest) Board Member of that nonprofit.
I am so. fucking. excited.
* Literally petitioned. The administrators said no at first so I went to each of my teachers and asked if I could miss class once a week to volunteer. Every single one of them said yes and signed a letter showing their support. The school caved, and I never went to school on Mondays again.
**Of course I have donated to causes and nonprofits here and there for years but this was different. This was taking money out of savings to give to an organization because I 100% believe in what they stand for, what they do and most of all how they do it. It felt like giving myself a present, not them.