Often I get asked…”So what DO you do?” I hem and I haw and I blankly stare. Since leaving a job I love at Courthouse Fitness I’ve been pursuing my health full time. Technically I’m still employed by the company as a fitness instructor and that has helped to have an answer in the holster for inquiring minds. But what DO I do?
I’ve taken to filling my time with helping people and I’ve become obsessed with plugging people into volunteer opportunities. There is such a beauty in seeing a person light up when they find their place alongside a fellow human. During my time off from “work” I’ve become obsessed with volunteer work and connecting people to volunteer work. (Specifically with rescue mission work…foster youth transition and helping homeless youth and adults transition back into general population.)The thought of saying I’m a professional volunteer has crossed my mind. Is that a thing?
Looking up VOLUNTEER…with good old Siri YET AGAIN….shows me that the definition is to freely offer to do something. No compensation. Not a lot of glory. Free of accolades. The reward you get is knowing you gave of yourself and hopefully you changed the pattern or journey in someone’s world. Come to think of it….that’s a pretty great payment…at least…I think so. I could get behind a full time…non paid…no benefits job like that.
So let’s practice this…”Hey Ang…what DO you do?” My response…”I’m a professional VOLUNTEER!…(oh and I work part time for https://courthousefit.com/)’
Side note: I currently volunteer with a women’s mission in Salem, Oregon and one in Las Vegas. Both are in huge need for help. Here are the links if you are in either area and have an hour or two to spare. https://ugmsalem.org/ https://vegasrescue.org/
Wow…that is heavy stuff…those two words together….
Here I am…trying to figure my own self out and looking for my own mentor and I’ve been entrusted to train and recruit people to be examples to our future generations. How do I select wisely and what do I tell them? I’m my own mix of hot mess and evolution right now…but I can’t tell a hurting 8 year old to hold tight with his grief and anger while I figure out how to live my own life.
I looked up the definition of ROLE MODEL before I began to type up the training I’ll administer to new volunteers and I thought about people who I would want as my own ROLE MODEL. Two wonderful people came to mind and I was fortunate enough that they agreed to join this program.
Cassie is an exuberant 20-something. She is mature and wise beyond her years and a co-worker I used to sit and talk through my own thoughts and life struggles with. I often find myself wishing I had the knowledge about life and her self-awareness when I was a young 20-something. I’d be so far ahead of the game by now. She will be such a gift to the two girls she works with and they will have a great mentor to guide them through some rough spots and elementary school. If I were one of her little ones, I’d be enamored by her perfect smile and her presence. She is so beautiful…I don’t mean that just superficially…her genuine compassion and kindness truly radiates and leaves you in awe of her as she enters a room.
Alex is the definition of spunky. Spunky isn’t even a long enough word to really harness the energy Alex will bring to his kids. He jokes about winning “favorite mentor” but he’s probably right. I don’t doubt that they will want to model his laughter and joy about life that he brings. My hope is that we can give them that true joy and light in their dark homes. If anyone can ignite that flame and light…it’ll be this guy. (I will have to get the link to his dance moves and post that some day).
We’ll have more ROLE MODEL’s joining and I can’t wait to learn from them and tell YOU about them.
(QUICK NOTE: For my training and guidelines, I used https://www.wikihow.com/Mentor-a-Troubled-Child, to supplement my training presentation for the new volunteers and mentors coming on board. )
About a month ago I sat with J, Belle and my baby brother, Chris, at a Mexican restaurant. Our original intention had been to advise Belle on what moving out would cost. Cramming tortilla chips and salsa down my gullet…I imparted my wisdom. “Turn the heat down when you leave. Ramen is a better choice than a store bought mocha. Body wash and shampoo are the same thing…save your money.” Around the second basket of chips…Belle waned and we lost her. She was fighting a stomach bug and our constant daggers of advice were pushing her to her limit.
Conversation turned to some of the kids at Chris’s school. He works at a local elementary school that has a 99% population of kids that are living in or under the poverty line. 99%!!!!! In addition to the stresses that come with living in this economic bracket a lot of these kids have domestic abuse in the home and/or are foster children. The behaviors that some of the kids were exhibiting had Chris worried and overwhelmed. He wanted to help them all…but how much can one person do. An idea began over the quesadillas and a mentor program was beginning to blossom. I’m happy to report that 4 days ago…we launched that mentor program!!!
After the high fives (ok…my brother and I don’t high five..we kind of just grunt approval at each other)…I sat to put together an itinerary and some words of advice to our volunteers (we currently sit at a whopping 2 volunteers). Mentoring is hard to describe and to define. I mean…according to my Australian King…Siri…it’s “to advise and train.” How do I tell these people the RIGHT way to do this? I’ve got some mulling….Give me a day.
I’m a brand ambassador for a movement called Live A Great Story…which I’ll shorten to LIVE for the remainder of….well…forever. A fellow ambassador named Lou Redmond sent a book to a group of us who serve as leaders in this community. “Find Your Truth” is an autobiography and an opportunity to walk alongside Lou as he grows from a partying, raving, booze-binging frat boy…to an inspiring leader. From the intro…I’ve found myself asking myself what my truth is.
Two pages in Lou declares that “YOU WERE MEANT FOR GREATNESS” and I proudly puffed up my chest at that….on a plane…next to a stranger….who plugged in his headphones and ignored me after that. I DIGRESS….
Greatness. Am I really destined for it and am I entitled to it? What is the key to unlocking this greatness that my fellow leader assures me is there? Fortunately, he gave the answer right away…my truth and then the ability to share it with the world.
The idea of living for a purpose bigger than me coincides with that SACRIFICE I talked about. I’ve declared my truth in the past year…..serve humans..specifically houseless and foster youth…and encourage everyone to love and engage with their fellow man. I aspire to inspire others to make this second nature.
Lou encourages the choice to inspire and the choice to find and live out our truth. What’s your truth? That’s the hardest part…defining that…the encouragement can be found to proceed and move forward once that part has been determined. Can’t find the encouragement from your circle? Get a new circle and then message me…I’ll encourage you. Can’t determine your truth? I’m happy to dialogue. Also….get this book by Lou Redmond.
I’ve worked in customer service for years and years and years. Every job I’ve held has been one where I’m the person who is the concierge between a consumer and the provider. At 18…my way of serving was very different than how I do it now.
Back then my thinking was always, “How can this customer make it quick so I can continue writing out my grocery list, read this book or stare off into space?” “Why do they have to pick me to help them…can’t they see I’m busy (staring off into space)?” “It’s 10 minutes until we close…If I sigh and look at the clock enough will they get the hint and leave (so I can stare off into space)?”
Hold your applause for me…barista of the month and salesperson of the year. What makes these moments of reminiscing embarrassing…other than the reminder of my once fantastic work ethic…is remembering about how often I fought back with superiors as they attempted to give me constructive criticism and feedback.
At 21, I began going back to church and exploring Christianity in my life. I became aware of how being a Christ follower bled into the way I worked. Realizing that I was a selfish brat and a shoddy worker…I pursued some work mentoring. Working in sales, at the time, and for commission, meant I had a way to gage my growth. How I defined serving evolved a little and I began to think differently in every situation where I was serving a consumer. My thoughts were more “I’m working on homework…but this is my job so I’ll get up and go help with a smile.” “I’m busy…but this person needs what I’m selling…so I’ll sacrifice some of my time.” “I’m off in 10 minutes…but I need to be mature and NOT look at the clock and huff.” Laugh all you want…I know you’re making fun of my customer service skeeeeels aren’t you? It’s ok…it’s called evolution and I’m not ashamed to admit it took me some time to evolve from simply selling to a mindframe of SERVITUDE.
God…with His sense of humor and loving way of coaching…intervened in my life to reveal that there was something to be gained from these serving jobs…some kind of lesson here. Through friends..adults who had infinite amounts of patience…and a boy named J…I began to see examples of what true selflessness and humility looked like in a customer service environment. From these lessons in the work place I finally opened my eyes and realized what serving looked like when it was carried over to a community and ministry. It would be more than a decade for all these pieces to come together…but here we are. Finally…my years of customer service graduating me into a world that needs SERVITUDE -someone to become completely subject to someone more powerful (God) and to HIS loved ones.
As I’ve chosen to commit to a word a day (see commitment issue confession in previous post) I find myself sitting with “SERVITUDE” today. I know how to serve a coffee, a presentation and a product to a consumer…but I did those things in a way that served MY needs first and the consumers second…how will I serve a community of people? That piece has to come together and be thought through every day that I wake up. I see the importance of personifying that word when I’m in front of a hungry man who is lying in filth and needs sock and food service. I can tell him…”It doesn’t matter what I have on my to-do list…because you and your needs are all that matter right now.” I understand the importance as I’m tutoring a woman still fighting drug addiction and needs love and attention served. I can tell her….”I’m so glad I was picked to serve you during this 2 hour stretch….your learning and growth are my only agenda right now.” When I encounter a 20 year old who is at a loss as to what a resume is or how to draft one, I now think…”We got this…and if it takes us an hour we’ll get it done right….I’ll help with whatever you need.”
I’m learning SERVITUDE..enslavement…the act of giving myself completely..and my 18 year old coffee serving self would be shocked at how much I’m enjoying the process.
Everyone around me seems to have latched on to the idea of a word for the year, but I am constantly fighting what word will see me through a week, a day, or a tough moment. While I wish there was a word that spoke to me enough that I’d commit to it for a year, I don’t think I’m ready for that kind of commitment. No offense LOVE and INSPIRATION and AMBITION, but I revel more in the gritty words like AGGRESSIVE PURSUIT, REFUGE and IMMERSION. My decision is to pursue a relationship with them, but only for a day. Call it commitment issues, but that’s all I’ve got.
As I begin the year of 2018 I’m going to hang my hat on ACTION for a week or two. I’ve been using social media to digitally “slap and psyche myself up,” but it’s now time to really delve in and get my hands dirty and I mean this quite literally. As I communicate and bond with homeless and displaced teens and adults, I hope I’m brave enough to stick a hand out and shake with a human who hasn’t washed their hands in God knows how long. I pray my nose doesn’t involuntarily wrinkle at the smell of b.o., feces and dirt and I always try and respect the person and not the appearance. While I might be fighting my own desires for that perfume Julia Roberts advertises…which smells like patchouli oil and ice cream (to me at least) and has a name that makes it sounds like I’ve traveled over an ocean, I realize that there are people who would love to have a bar of hotel soap and a shower. Believe me, I see the contrast and I flush when I type or confess these thoughts…but I don’t think I’m the only person who battles that.
My action, this month, is one that will have me being able to only afford that free hotel soap and saving for a year for that french celeb parfum (tell me you read that with the accent) . I can’t tell you what it is just yet, but I can assure you that I am investing time back to the homeless community I’ve always sworn I’d dedicate my life too. My promise is that this week and this month, I have appointments and goals that will start the process of my one on one interaction with some of our city’s broken, rehabilitating and overlooked people. In my journey…this is metaphorically me walking to the car and getting ready to start it…..my keys are in hand and I’m opening the door…..(to be continued)…..