Wednesday, December 14, 2011

#reverbbroads11: Giving Back

I'm participating in #ReverbBroads11, a month of blog prompts promised to be silly and reflective. Today's prompt: Is volunteering something you do regularly? If yes where do you volunteer? If not, why not?

 I smile very wide at this question. But it also forces me to stop and think about the truth: the truth is, I did regularly volunteer. Do I regularly still? No, but I take the opportunity when I can. Here's my explanation:

My first semester of college I joined a sorority. I had decided, or thought, early on that Panhellenic wasn't for me and that I just wanted something more low-key. At my freshman orientation, wayyyy back in the corner, was the table for Omega Phi Alpha, National Service Sorority. For some reason, they just stood out and I feel like I clicked. So anyway, pledge process, activation in February, and from then on it was history. Our sorority focuses on six areas of service - the community at large, the sisters of the sorority, university community, the nations of the world, President's project (a new topic each year, ranging from education to breast cancer) and mental health. Six projects a semester, which provided me more than a few opportunities to do things around NAU and Flagstaff - sure, it ranged from a campus trash clean-up to holding a Senior Prom at the retirement community in town, to Relay for Life and doing drunk-driving presentations with the local police at area high schools. But there were so many opportunities just to get out there.

Working the 2005 NAU Homecoming parade!
During grad school, all I could talk about was wanting to do more. As is the case with so many, I spent all my time on my assistantship and classwork and didn't give myself the chance to keep doing things. Live, learn.  The same continued into my first professional position though - as a hall director with regular 40+ weeks, it was hard to be able to commit 10 hours a month to the humane society or some other local cause. 

And here I am today, in a position where 95% of my weekends are mine, and I have time to do things I love - like volunteering and serving my community again. In October, I volunteered and worked the Athens Half Marathon, serving as part of the kick-off crew and helped take down the whole starting gates. I signed up to work with the Athens Area Humane Society, and despite that not going as planned, am waiting to hear back from  another local county's humane society to continue work with them. I also regularly look for opportunities through Hands on Northeast Georgia for things to do - it's a great way to meet people, especially since I'm still so new here!

And, true to nature, I still volunteer with my sorority. I participate in projects with my local chapters when I am able, but have spent my almost-6-years since graduation regularly taking up national or regional positions, aiming to still give back to the sorority that gave me so much. As some may know, and as lots don't know, I give full credit to my sorority for keeping me at NAU and helping me graduate from there; that was the connection I had longed for, and though it took awhile to realized I'd found it, my organization is my everything!

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