Thursday, April 10, 2014

#10 - Volunteering

[We're more than a quarter into 2014 now, so I figure it's time to get cracking on addressing some of my goals for the year.  Several from my 20 in 14 list are in-progress, but there are a couple I can write more about at this point.  Stay tuned for additional posts as I tackle the items on my list.]

Volunteering is one of those hobbies (if you will) that I consider "my thing."  Growing up as an active member of my parish 4-H program, being in 4-H and volunteering kinda became my "sport."  What I mean is that once I realized dance/gymnastics/baton were not my forte, I took up civic engagement as a fulfilling pastime.

At some point in high school or college, I announced that I wanted to be a career volunteer, knowing that possibility was unlikely to ever be a reality.  After graduate school, however, I landed what I thought was my dream job - Volunteer Coordinator - for a nonprofit organization that I wholeheartedly believed in.  I recruited, trained, supported, evaluated, and recognized teenagers and young adults who were interested in working with individuals with disabilities in the outdoor camp setting.

It was great.  I loved working with teens who were enthusiastic and passionate about the cause, and I found it very rewarding to watch them grow and evolve personally and professionally throughout the year.  I felt like I made a difference by helping to transform the program from one that focused on serving the "clientele" (for lack of a better word) to one that embraced the opportunity to be that catalyst for developing these young adults into informed and engaged citizens.

But, then I had to move.  More specifically, I got married and moved back to my home state, leaving behind an organization and position that I truly enjoyed and considered family.  I was blessed to be offered a position working with the 4-H program there, which seemed on paper to be a natural fit.  But, somehow, that feeling of "career volunteer" turned into just plain old "work."  For the sake of public access, I'll refrain from elaborating there.

Looking to fill that void and hoping to make this new city feel more like home, I decided I needed to find a way to volunteer again.  When I added 'volunteering' to my list of goals for 2014, I had full intentions of becoming a Saturday volunteer with the local humane society for cats.  Alex and I adopted two kittens from there last year, and it seems like a fun organization to get involved with.  However, ya'll know what happens when you tell God your plans...

Okay, so nothing major happened, but I sort of fell into a different volunteer opportunity that just so happens to be a more natural fit, at the moment anyway.  If you don't know much about our lifestyle in the moment, let me just say it's very inconsistent.  Our work schedules vary tremendously (especially Alex's), and we often work nights/weekends.  This makes it tough for us to feel like we have much time together to lead a "regular" know, the kind where you have friends over to barbecue, maintain a backyard garden, or go on weekend trips as a couple...

So, when we realized the Marketing Intern responsible for assigning students to work at baseball games left off a student for the score board, I eagerly asked if I could do it.  I'm not a sports person by any means, but with baseball, I can hang!  I'd even gotten a bit of practice in the fall for some intersquad games, so I knew I could pick up the hang of things if I had the chance.

The game-day staff agreed to let me man the scoreboard for the first weekend, and well, that was back in's now April and here I am still running the scoreboard.  Every now and again I can't make it due to work and such, but a kind intern guy generally fills in for me when that happens.  It's really been fun to have a purpose for being in the pressbox during the games, and I've also found it easier to get to know many of the people Alex works with.  I'm not just some imaginary figure ("the wife"), but instead I feel like a part of the athletic department community.

...And every once in a while, I get to be experience something really cool, like this:

A gorgeous rainbow framed the field after yesterday's storms.

or this:

Click here to read the full story from
And here for another story on Coach Black.

To date, I've volunteered for at least 15 games, figuring at least 3 hours each, so a total of nearly 50 hours.  Not too shabby!

A bit wordy, I know, but there you have it!  I can say I've crossed another thing off my list!


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