Monday, October 28, 2013

Striking Out In New Directions

Treat YourselfThe other day my cousin was catching me up on a big transition his family is planning. As I grilled him for specifics he answered patiently, concluding, "And, if it isn't what we need then we'll change it."

My breath caught in my throat. I couldn't speak. Finally I choked out, "That's absolutely true. You're a lot better at seeing that than I am."

To my great chagrin he agreed. Immediately. I can't blame him, though, because it's true. I didn't arrange the furniture in my apartment for weeks after I moved in because once I did it would have to stay there FOREVER. (It has been moved. Once. At the insistence of an expert.)

Many years ago I decided that I wanted to volunteer for God's Love We Deliver on Thanksgiving Day. I signed up and found out that, rather than the full day, grueling commitment I'd expected, it was a light, fun couple of hours early in the day. I loved doing it. Over the past three years or so it's become clear that I'm not the only one. Floods of people enjoy this volunteer opportunity and those floods have made it possible for GLWD to adjust the way they operate their deliveries to make things go even more quickly. When I got the notice to sign up this year I thought carefully and decided that I wouldn't. The locations and assignments weren't well suited to me and I know, with certainty, that they will have plenty of help on this day.

They don't need me.

Good Thing When I began this tradition (and I did begin it with the idea that it would, without a doubt, become a tradition) I had it in the back of my mind that I would eventually expand the time I volunteered. I knew that a few hours of help on one day a year was more than nothing but still less than I was capable of giving. Yet, with everything so neatly packaged, I loved the routine and I kept it. I like forever.

Forever, as my cousin likes to remind me, is all smoke and mirrors, though. I know that. So, even before I formally decided not to volunteer with GLWD I had been rolling over in my mind what I would do to replace that small contribution to society. I wanted it to be a larger time commitment than my one day a year. I didn't want it to be a solely monetary donation. I had trouble committing to a three hours per week or one day a month thing because, you know, what if I'm not available on that day every time for ever and ever? Right? What then?

I keep up with Family to Family on social media. They were the chosen charity for Listen To Your Mother NYC this year and, since I'll be a part of the event again next year, I want to keep in touch with organizations that made our show so memorable previously. Today, by chance, a tweet they sent about Thanksgiving caught my eye. The head of the local chapter told a story at LTYM about cooking Thanksgiving dinner in a microwave on her bedside table after her home was destroyed in Hurricane Sandy. Since my GLWD volunteering was Thanksgiving-related I thought I'd see what they needed.

I could have donated money for a turkey and side dish. I could have sponsored a family. I could have done a lot of things but a button on the right hand side of the home page was filled with books and I clicked on that. They have a program where you sign up for a minimum 12 month commitment to send a book and a letter to a child once a month. They encourage the child to write back to you.

I found my thing. I love books. I love to write letters. I love kids. It's both more time and more money than I was giving before and it's the perfect amount of both as far as I'm concerned. I can't wait!

7 comments:

  1. Oh...this is a wonderful idea.

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  2. oh that so suits you it's utter perfection ... glad you found it! and i'm caught in the middle of routine-stability-loving and change-it-up-for-excitement-or-improvement-loving. wavering wildly, and never sure how i'm going to feel about it. i've kinda ditched routine to the curb lately, but maybe too far ... we'll see.

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  3. I am always looking for charitable literacy organizations--especially those that benefit kids--and I had never heard of this program before. THANK YOU for sharing--I've checked their website and will be signing up later today!

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  4. Ohhhh well. This is lovely. I'm going to go lookie.

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  5. Lovely. Love this.

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  6. I'm just gonna call you Charing Cross Road from now on.....

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  7. What a cool idea! You love writing letters and you love to read and you love kids! The child(ren) receiving those books are gonna be extra lucky to get a letter from you too!

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