Why I Volunteer

Those who can, do. Those who can do more, volunteer.

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Lately putting together a blog post has been tough, as I have been incredibly busy while still pushing through my neck pain, which then flares my fibromyalgia. I feel like I have lost some of my zip. Work, volunteering on the board of a non-profit, and life in general keeps me busy and tired. But as this is National Volunteer Week, I thought I would share a collection of my favorite inspirational quotes bring the point of volunteering home. I wrote about this a few months back in a post called I Can Do Something, inspired by this quote:

“I can’t do everything but I can do SOMETHING. I will not let the things I cannot do prevent me from doing the things I can.” ~ Helen Keller

So why do I volunteer?

  • Giving back to small businesses or non-profit organizations helps society. There are organizations that just couldn’t do what they manage to accomplish without the help of volunteers, given their limited resources.
  • Volunteering gives you a sense of purpose and the ability to contribute to a cause you care about while sharing your talents.
  • Volunteering helps you build relationships with others who are also passionate about your cause, and gives you a community to belong to.

Continue reading “Why I Volunteer”

I Can Do Something

I love to find inspiring words and share them with others and find ways to apply them to my life. After all, the fun in life is sharing, caring, loving, and giving. Yes, I truly believe that.

“I can’t do everything but I can do SOMETHING. I will not let the things I cannot do prevent me from doing the things I can.” ~ Helen Keller

It’s been a few months since my last blog post. My absence can be attributed to two things: First, with my daughter now away at college and my son working full time, I have found I have free time to find what I enjoy doing and am passionate about. That time has been spent volunteering and being active with my leadership alumni group of friends. The second more compelling reason for my absence has been related to a new/old health issue that has been causing me a tremendous amount of pain. Chronic pain is a real energy drain. So any spare time I have had lately has been spent resting, visiting doctors, researching the problem, and trying to feel better. (More on this in another blog…)

While chronic pain may limit the things I can do physically, I am able to share my other talents by volunteering. Giving back. Sometimes the selfless act of helping others can help us forget the pains we suffer. So I volunteer with Women in Technology at girls STEM events, and I joined the board of a local food pantry (who is so much more to the community) to try to help them make a difference. As the quote notes, I can’t do EVERYTHING, although Lord knows I have tried. But I can do SOMETHING.

Do you volunteer? I would love to hear the sorts of things you do.

Cheers!

Cynthia

Make a Difference 

“One person can make a difference, and every person should try.” – JFK

October 22nd was Make a Difference Day. “Since 1992, volunteers and communities have come together on Make A Difference Day with a single purpose: to improve the lives of others.” Now before you point out that I am a week late with this post, rest assured I know. However, last Saturday, on the actual day, I was volunteering for the Alliance of Technology and Women at their GreatMinds event.

“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” Gandhi

GreatMinds stands for “Girls Reaching for Education About Technology and Moving in Directions for Success” and it is an outreach program to encourage young girls to learn about and pursue careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math). This year the event was held at Southwest Airlines’ training center and gave young girls an opportunity to tour the facility and hear from some of their female employees. Now I did little more than help set up, hand out T-shirts and goody bags, talk to the girls during the exercises, and help clean up. But I myself was inspired by some of the speakers they had, as well as the girls. Continue reading “Make a Difference “

The End Results

One Day. Many Hands. Side by Side.

Last week I wrote about my week leading up to “Garland Gives” day with my leadership class GG-KickoffLeadership Garland 35.  To quote the program’s Executive Director, Jan Furtick, “I feel like a proud mom today. With about 140 volunteers led by Class 35 working 8 projects throughout the community, I am blown away! Lots of good things being done and lots of friendships being strengthened. GARLAND GIVES. One day. Many hands. Side by side.”

As a wrap up to the week, I just wanted to post a few pics from the day.  Although I didn’t do much physical labor yesterday, I was part of the team doing the overall planning for months leading up to the event.  There was a lot of mental exhaustion and anguish during that time.  Oftentimes people don’t realize what goes on behind the scenes when they only see the end product, which is hopefully a well-oiled machine, but I can tell you it was a lot of emails, phone calls, planning meetings, conference calls, shopping for supplies, and planning of every last detail.  Given everyone’s different strengths and weaknesses, some project leads were more detail oriented and others had more of a “wing it” style.  But in the end, everything worked out.  The weather cooperated.  The mulch disappeared.  And at the end of the day yesterday, I was as exhausted as if I were moving all of that mulch!

The Projects

Prize for the fastest project to finish goes to Salvation Army where the ladies moved playground mulch at record speed. An equipment problem prevented them from power washing the parking lot, so a group will return to finish another day.

GG-SA-mulch
This is how you do it!
Prize for the most fun goes to Good Samaritans where there was plenty of food to eat, a DJ, some dancing, a very questionable “magic show,” and a Ford filled with canned food from a local dealership. They rebuilt the food pantry shelves inside the building and refreshed the picnic area outside the building.

Prize for the best yard decoration goes to Pawsibilities. They refreshed the grounds for the dogs and the volunteers.

Prize for slow and steady wins the race goes to Landmark Society. They were the last ones to finish, but had the tedious inside task of indexing and transcribing photo albums and scrap books. Not a lot of pictures taken because, as their project lead Marty commented, “There’s not a lot of scintillating work going on here.” Although I did hear they had quite a bit of fun with the stories about rising buildings and youth running off to San Francisco in the 60s, from the scrapbooks of Garland’s history.

Prize for best use of Police and Fire personnel goes to Hope Clinic where those guys built a beautiful prayer garden area. Be still, my project manager heart!

Prize for the best disappearing act for making 31 cubic yards of mulch disappear faster than anyone expected goes to Jonathan’s Place, where they did arts and crafts with the kids, planted flowers, collected flip-flops for summer camp, and distributed mulch to several playground areas.

Prize for the best swag bag goes to New Beginning Center where they helped people trying to re-enter the workforce write resumes and practice their interview skills, helped them pick out a new interview outfit, and provided them with a portfolio, a thumb drive, and make-up bags full of goodies. Unfortunately, no pictures were taken due to the nature of the clients.

And finally, the prize for the best workout before the workout goes to Get to Know Garland where a Camp Gladiator trainer warmed the participants up before they were set loose on a scavenger hunt around downtown Garland. The participants all got some swag in the end, as well as prizes such as a Chromebook and fitness trackers.

One Day. Many hands. Side by side. We had over 140 volunteers work on 8 projects for 8 hours on one day, making an impact on the lives of others. There were countless hours spent in the months leading up to this day. There were our share of missteps, differing opinions, and mistakes along the way (Lessons Learned), but nothing stopped us from achieving our end goal of giving back to our community. I am proud of my classmates and the work that was accomplished, and hope everyone that had a hand is proud as well. I am a proud member of Leadership Garland Class 35, we are “The BEST Class!“.

Cheers!

Cynthia

Garland Gives

One Day…Many Hands…Side-by-Side

I attended the Women in Water luncheon last week at Texas Water, where Ft. Worth Mayor Betsy Price was the keynote speaker. She made two comments that stuck with me: “You have to give back to the community where you live” and “Being connected to the community helped shape my career” since that was ten days before “Garland Gives.”  The “Garland Gives” day of community service demonstrates the central role of Garland’s leaders in building community vitality at every level.  To read about the projects Leadership Garland Class 35 (#TheBESTClass) selected, visit the Garland Gives page.

We started planning for this day in November, 2015.  Five months, various planning meetings and conference calls later, it is HERE!  My intention was to blog for the past five months about this journey, but that didn’t happen.  But I do intend to blog this week about our experiences and update the timeline along the way.  Cheers!

Friday, April 22 – The three “Project Overall Directors” (AKA the Tri-PODs – Rockin’ Robert, Persistent Patricia, and Can-Do Cynthia) have a conference call (we like to call them “POD”-casts) to discuss possible rubber chickens.  Right now we are facing the possibility of rain during most of next week and through the weekend, and not having enough volunteers to help move mulch at Jonathan’s Place.  We have ordered the equivalent of 500 bags of mulch.  The phrase “That’s a lot of mulch” is repeated no less than 10 times during the conversation.  We are all slightly worried.   That’s a lot of mulch!

Saturday, April 23 – Project prep work has begun at Good Samaritan’s as two team members prep the picnic area.
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Sunday, April 24 (Updated at 9:45PM) – I get word that the Good Samaritan project has a line on a DJ rather than just an iPod and speakers. Make mental note to update the special events permit and resubmit when I get to the office tomorrow. Better yet, email myself a note. There’s also more prep work being done for the Good Sam project as Epic Sernerick is prepping the wood. #bossup2016
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Weather continues to be worrisome, as I receive an email from the Office of Emergency Management about the forecast for the week. #fingerscrossed #prayforsun  I am now wondering: Will they deliver that much mulch in stormy weather? I text one of the other PODs so they can worry along with me….

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You know what they say about Texas weather? If you don’t like it, just wait an hour and it will change! #prayforsun

Monday, April 25 (Updated at 9:23PM) – I submitted revised permit (yay me!) and then came across an old Dilbert cartoon that reminded me of this week. With the little skull representing our project day, and all of those risk factors (“rubber chickens”) pointing at a us like rain, too much mulch, not enough volunteers or wheel barrows, T-shirt orders, rain, headcount to order breakfast, rain. Doom and Gloom, I say! Yes, the thought of moving wet mulch in the rain is bringing out the nervous nelly in me. Plans are made to buy tarps to try to keep it dry upon delivery.

Courtesy of http://www.dilbert.com

No blame will be placed here.  Lessons will be learned.  We succeed or fail as a TEAM and we choose not to fail.  Weather is a factor beyond our control.  We can choose how to respond.  We decide to proceed as planned with breakfast as scheduled.  A final Go/No-Go Decision will be made at 8:00 AM by each project manager on project day.

My day is spent at work, shooting off reminder emails to project leads, and trying to herd cats. I had two simple requests. Approximately 30 emails and 12 hours later, I have my answers. This day has worn me out. I feel my fibromyalgia may be trying to rear its ugly head. I do not have time for this right now. Get me through the next 10 days and then I will collapse.

Tuesday, April 26 – Relatively light day. The nightly conference call mainly consists of discussing how much breakfast to buy and the weather and possible bad weather plans. More doom and gloom.  On the bright side, instead of a fibro-flare (or maybe in addition to) I feel like I am coming down with something. Please, not now. I am speaking tomorrow at a regional user group day. Our project day is Saturday. And our Austin trip is next week. One week and then I will collapse….

Wednesday, April 27 – I check in with my two project teams (New Beginning Center and Good Samaritans) to see if they need anything. These two teams are ROCK STARS I tell you. They are busy with prep work and have begun executing their plans. It is great to work with teams that are so well organized and have great attitudes.  Rain or Shine, we are doing this! With a little humor and grace sprinkled in!

Thursday, April 28 – √Breakfast ordered.  √Permit and DJ for Good Samaritans confirmed. Volunteers, including some of the Youth Leadership Garland team, have been busy emptying the food pantry into a POD so shelving rebuild can happen on Friday. √Mulch delivery at Salvation Army. [NOTE: Jonathan’s Place will have 3x this much mulch. So when we say, “That’s a lot of mulch!” we mean it. Yikes!]

√9PM conference call wrapped up and so far no rubber chickens. √Email reminders sent. √Time to rest…I was under the effects of antihistamines all day.  Tomorrow will be busier. No rest for the weary!

Friday, April 29 – T-minus 24 hours! I wake up and set my alarm for tomorrow for 4:45AM, so I can get there to set up for breakfast. I receive more project emails. I send more project emails. I am still feeling the effects of the antihistamine I took yesterday morning. I am debating whether I give myself permission to take another day off from working out. Maybe if I work out the drugged effect will go away… I decide to suck it up.

On the schedule for today is √buying flip-flops for the kids at Jonathan’s Place, √dropping off professional clothing at New Beginning Center’s resale shop, √checking in at Salvation Army to get water donations dropped off and check on things for breakfast, √picking up canned food for Good Samaritan’s and √dropping those off, √printing signs and more details, √9 PM conference call.  While I am out during the day, I monitor the progress over at Good Samaritan’s, which is the biggest project of the weekend. It has been a week-long effort and things are coming along nicely.

I come home and collapse. I work on signs and goodie bags for each project manager. They have removed rain from tomorrow’s forecast, so we will only be dealing with wet mulch to move and mud to till and plant in at the outdoor projects.  “Yay!” to not working in the rain! It’s time to get some rest, because tomorrow is…

PROJECT DAY! – Less than 5 hours sleep and out of the house by 6:10AM to get breakfast set up. We had a great turn out, a few words from our Mayor and City Manager, and then it’s “off to the races”. Before I could get breakfast cleaned up, our first rubber chicken of the day. And off I go to Home Depot to try to get a new hose for a power washer. Overall the day was a success, all projects met their goals, finished early, and no blood was shed. There was even some dancing going on over at one of the projects. I will post the end products soon. Now, I rest….

Come back to see how the week unfolds, and tell me about the “rubber chickens” you have encountered this week.

Cheers!
“Can-Do” Cynthia