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. 


  1. I got shivers, girl. You are a kind person. I love reading stories like this. You should be proud.

  2. Arrgghhh, what a great feeling. Not only to donate to something that you're very close to, but to have had a direct hand in working with the organization, well . . . that's very exciting indeed.

  3. Man, you just squeezed some tears out of me. I love this post! 1. Bravo for being a young volunteer 2. Hooray for being able to make a contribution to the organization 3. Congrats Madam Board Member!