Mar 10, 2015

Of Charities and Changing Perspective

So remember when I said that I felt like a bad person because I don't like volunteering?  Well, my most recent excursion was much more pleasant!

Last Tuesday we did our annual meal preparation for the Ronald McDonald house.  Despite my initial reluctance, I was feeling more and more enthused about my planned contribution - apple crumble and cheesecake shooters.

I made a plan to eliminate the things I hadn't enjoyed from before: feeling confused and unhelpful, and being at the beck and call of the residents when they needed someone to root around in a chaotic organization system that I didn't understand.

So having my own meal to plan and prepare kept me very busy.  I ended up with a bevy of helpers and I spent more time running around telling them what to do than actually doing any food prep myself.  To be honest, I'd rather be more involved with the proceedings, but I was still pleased with how things progressed and my helpers were super awesome!

As we were nearing the end of our allotted preparation time, I was surprised to find I was actually enjoying myself.  Having my own project kept me from feeling lost, Ryan and my parents were there to chat with, and interacting with my coworkers was a lot more fun probably because after an additional year of working together I'm much more comfortable with everyone.

Then, at the suggestion of one of my helpers, I went on the offered tour of the house.  And, you know what?  It's amazing!  Hearing our guide (another volunteer) describe the building, what activities went on, the different ways they offered support to the parents and families, and just his general enthusiasm made me feel really good about the whole thing.  I felt much more involved and I got a better sense of exactly what's being done and how much it helps people.

Afterwards, we returned to the kitchens and set everything up for dinner.  It seemed more organized than last time, but perhaps that was merely my added familiarity with the building.  And then... someone came up and asked me if I knew where a to-go box could be found.

A simple request right?  But it was worlds different than it was last year.

Last year I felt lost and confused and bothered by the chaos.  Last year the person asked me rudely and impatiently and I felt all kinds of out of sorts both by their tone and my lack of knowledge.  Last year I rummaged around in the closet for a good 20 minutes before finding it, all the while feeling stressed that someone was waiting on me (and not very happily at that).

This year the person requested it politely and I, delighted that I actually knew the answer to this, dashed off to the cabinet and retrieved the item.  She took it and we both went on our way.  No big thang.

It's kind of insane to think back on last year's experience and how much anxiety I felt, and how sharply this year's experience contrasted with that.

This year was fun and light-hearted and incredibly satisfying when we heard people make comments about how delicious the food was, and how glad they were to have a meal that wasn't pasta (we went all out.  There was jambalaya, and prime rib, and sides galore!  Plus, of course, apple crumble and cheesecake shooters).  I even heard someone comment on how exciting the desserts were.

To sum up: I don't feel like a bad person anymore.  And I'm actually looking forward to next year.

What was your favorite volunteering experience?  Least favorite?

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  1. I'm glad it was better than last time!

    I haven't volunteered for anything, I'm a people avoider by nature.

  2. Glad it was better. I have disliked most things I've volunteered for except the time I did tours dressed in period costume of a house built in the 1800's that was lost of fun.


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