Viva La Volunteering

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Living in a brand new community can be tough, especially when you have no prior ties there. Before college, I’d never had any particular connection to Boston. Four years later, I mourned leaving just as I had leaving New Hampshire. What changed? I sank my roots in to the city and adopted it as my own. Now has come the time to do the same in California, but I’ve struggled with making a lasting relationship. At first I was puzzled – I’ve got a job here, I’m making new friends, I’m exploring the area. What’s not working?

My aha moment came when a fellow Emerson grad, Dylan Manderlink, posted an article on VolunteerMatch about how community service can help you sink your roots into your new home. Like me, Dylan moved for work after college, and ended up in Arkansas as a Corps Member for Teach for America. She writes:

From volunteering at a local animal shelter once a week, to joining a women’s rights and empowerment organization once a month, I involved myself, my passions, and my talents with the community I now live in. And in return, I have felt welcomed, familiarized, and positively acknowledged in a town that I now call home, despite only having lived here for two months.”

Volunteering was not a huge part of my childhood growing up, but over time it was something I was naturally drawn to. My junior year of college, I participated in Emerson’s Alternative Spring Break program, and

My ASB group in El Paso, TX

My ASB group in El Paso, TX

traveled to El Paso, TX to experience life on the borderland and to volunteer with various nonprofits. It was, to say the least, life changing. After that, I returned to Boston with a new sense of purpose and began regularly volunteering with Rosie’s Place, a women’s shelter.

Immediately after reading this article, I was inspired to look into some local volunteer opportunities in Los Angeles, one such being the Downtown Women’s Shelter. In fact, after writing this today I’ll also be heading over to the Atwater Animal Shelter to pick up an application. These are small baby steps, but ones I hope help me get some roots planted in my new urban home.

Here’s to an inspired new week everyone!

p.s. I challenge you to find one way in which to express kindness to others this week – FabFitFun has some great ideas here!

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