Saturday, July 4, 2009

Four weeks, Four projects

At the beginning of June, I set a personal challenge to do a volunteer project every week in June. At the time, I already had projects scheduled for June 6th and 20th, so I only needed two more. Piece of cake, right? Luckily for me, I volunteer through Hands on Greater Portland, which is part of the nationwide Hands On Network of volunteers. They work with a number of organizations in this area finding volunteers for either one-time events or ongoing projects. I typically sign up to volunteer at Schoolhouse Supplies, but I love the variety that Hands On offers should I want to do something else.

Last year, I went through the project leader training so I could take over the ongoing Schoolhouse Supplies project that is typically the 2nd Thursday of the month during the school year. I can also be called upon to lead other projects. This was the case for June 6th. A project leader was needed for Project Ethiopia and I agreed to do it. Project Ethiopia is an organization that has been collecting donated new and used athletic shoes for about two years with the intent to send them to Ethiopia. Our task was to work with them to clean up the shoes that needed it and sort them by style (athletic, performance and sport), men's, women's or children and size. Once they were sorted accordingly, we also had to count how many pairs were in each box. This was actually a lot of fun. My good friend came out for it with two of her three foster sons, and it was nice to spend the afternoon with them. And they provided us with lunch, which was an added bonus. I got a call Thursday afternoon asking if I would lead this project again in August. I need to double check my calendar, but if I am available that day, I would love to do this again.

Since I didn't have a project lined up for the 13th, I looked over the calendar and decided that Paint it up at Faubion Elementary looked like fun. Plus, I had a chiropractor appointment first thing that morning and this one started late enough that I could go get adjusted and still be on-time. And I would have been too, if the line at Starbucks hadn't been so dang long! For this project, we painted one of the main sections of the hallway a nice light blue-it was a dingy grey beforehand. While I stayed back with the project leader to clean the brushes, the rest of the crew repainted the lines on the basketball court. It looked awesome when they were finished! We only had 3 hours for this project and the school was kind of hard to find. Only about 1/2 of the volunteers that signed up were there but we really kicked butt and got a lot done in a short amount of time.

On the 20th, I was at Schoolhouse Supplies for the monthly book sort. A local bookstore donates about 5,000 books a month during the school year and our job is to go through and select the books that are appropriate for school aged kids (K-12) and shelve them so the teachers can take them for classroom libraries for free reading periods, etc. I have pretty much taken over the shelving aspect of it. I have been doing this project for a few years now, so I feel I have a good idea of what books the teachers will and will not take, especially in the high school range. So, the other shelvers and I make the final determination as to what books make it on the shelves and if they have been sorted properly. Inevitably, every month there is someone that sorts by age instead of grade level. This month, we were low on shelf space and sent a lot of books back. Any books we don't use, volunteers can take home, and there are a couple of other organizations that come in and take the leftover books when we are finished. My friend and her oldest foster son came for this one, so again, I got to spend time with them.

The 27th proved to be a challenge. There weren't a lot of projects on the calendar and most of them were about 45 minutes or so away. I am not opposed to going that far, but I also had a BBQ to work around. I finally chose "Rosemont Bluff Restoration." This involved pulling "invasive species" from a small natural area in NE Portland. Unfortunately, one of the "side effects" of grief is that I don't have the attention span I once did, so the lesson on what was invasive vs. native pretty much went in one ear and out the other. Luckily, there was a big patch of plants and weeds that were all invasive so I just worked on that. Again, my friend and her oldest foster son were there. She decided that he really needed to go on a doughnut run, which was a nice treat. I did find it amusing that I am willing to go and pull weeds for Portland Parks and Rec, but there is now a weed in my own yard that is taller than I am!

I am not sure what I am going to do for a personal challenge for July. I am approaching the 1 1/2 year mark since James died so right now, I really just want to get through it without going through another huge backslide like I did at 15 months.

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