Sorting Through My Thoughts

23 09 2011

Yair and I have both mentioned the obstacles and barriers to short-term volunteering.  Over the past ten days, I made multiple phone calls to organizations offering them my skills for 6 weeks – for free! – with little result.  Even Goodwill’s job placement centers are wary about taking on a short-term volunteer, despite my background in the field.  I don’t plan on giving up, but I definitely have more empathy for people who are searching for paying jobs.

Last week I began volunteering for Food for Lane County, a commendable organization that seamlessly salvages food that would otherwise be wasted and distributes the food to people who would otherwise go hungry.  From the very first moments of my volunteer shift, I experienced an energy boost and felt more like myself than I have in months.  Community service and giving are core parts of my identity that I have nourished in many ways over the years and it struck me that this period of travel was the first time in my life that I have not been involved in these things.  Returning to volunteering almost felt like I was highly protein deficient but didn’t realize it until I had a good (black bean!) burger and became myself again.

Packaging 1,200 Pounds Of Pinto Bean Flakes

Packaging 1,200 Pounds Of Pinto Bean Flakes

RVing has been amazing and we’ll continue with it for some time, but I’m done with randomly traveling for the heck of it.  Travel and hobbies and people are all wonderful side dishes so-to-speak, but my main course needs to be service and community organizing – and I don’t want to go another full year before jumping back into things.

The Final Product, Ready To Go

The Final Product, Ready To Go

We’ve encountered many people in Eugene who are “underprivileged”, and who tell Yair and I how we can easily access social services here: free food, clothes, showers, laundry. Rather than families down on their luck, many of these people seem to young, substance using wanderers who in some sense are improperly taking advantage of the system.  (This makes me a bit uneasy.)  It’s wonderful that social services exist, but my resounding reaction is that I am not meant to be on the receiving end of these services.  I don’t want to take them.  I don’t need to take them.  I wouldn’t take them.  I want to give and help others.  I’m ready to be “a citizen” and use my skills for that.

We have at least six months of cool places that we will be visiting (San Francisco, Vegas, Tucson, Austin) that correspond with Faces of Israel programs that I have booked, but I am looking forward to finding and creating volunteer opportunities over the next six months and then perhaps staying in one area for a while in order to jump in, get my hands dirty and make a modicum of a difference in the local community.

posted by ayo

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6 responses

24 09 2011
matt

when are you going to be in San Francisco?
Are you doing the Faces of Israel program at the JCCSF here in the city?

26 09 2011
ayo

We’re coming to San Fran in mid-November. I spoke with the JCC folks about presenting Faces of Israel and they were interested, but the timing didn’t work out so they said that they’d keep it in mind for later in the year. (If you know David G., please put in a good word!) 🙂

Let’s definitely plan to meet up when we hit SF.

24 09 2011
Barbara Morgan

Interesting how you’re seeing first hand how the system can be abused. It’s a shame people take advantage of a program designed for those who really need it. Because I have very little income, a friend once told me I should check into getting free health care. Hey! It was my choice to quit work. If I can’t make it on what I have, I need to get a job!

Good for you for giving of yourselves!

roamingbarbara

26 09 2011
ayo

Agreed, though “indulging” in a social service can also be tempting every now and then – particularly since healthcare is our biggest monthly expense! Alas.

Thanks for sharing your experience and for the encouragement. 🙂

28 09 2011
*camp1899*

ayo…
a really good post, thanks for sharing, you are a very special person, i feel lucky to call you a friend. *tiffany*

12 11 2011
ayo

Aww, you’re such a sweetheart. Enjoy Denver, safe travels next month and we’ll hope to see you soon! xo

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