Why I Volunteer

I think most of you know that I’m a second year in a Masters program.  If you follow me on Twitter– you might have seen some of my posts about a board of directors that I sit on or about my volunteer efforts at the local animal shelter.  These are two things that keep me grounded & centered.

I come from a family that values civic engagement.  My mothers parents, both of them, were two of the most influential people in my life in terms of public service.  (Grandmother’s recent obituary) Long before I truly understood all that they did, Chair of the Ohio State Democratic Party, School Board President, School Board members, Ohio State Lottery Commission….etc (yes, they lived in Ohio), I was looking for ways to be civically engaged.  Sophomore year in high school I applied to be the youth member on the New Trier Township board on Youth.  This group was basically tasked with giving tax payor dollars to local youth social services agencies.  I served on this board for two years and loved every second of it.

Since that experience I’ve served in many capacities.  The two current ones, as alluded to in the intro: serving on the board & volunteering at the local animal shelter.

Board service— I serve as an at large member of the Board of Directors of a small non-profit organization.  This particular group has a bi-national audience (US & Canada) and oversees a form of fine arts.  I was sought after to serve on this board after some members of this community found how devoted I have been to getting younger folks involved in the arts.  It’s an interesting board – made up of about 23 individuals from the US & Canada.

I serve on the nominating committee, the task group on youth, and currently a one year term on the executive board.  Each of these entities are different and unique and fun.  I value the engagement with others.  I also invest lots of time and energy in understanding how I can contribute to push the organization forward and continually develop strategic goals and help them to achieve said goals.  (insert some comment about transferrable skills to my student affairs life here!)

Volunteering at the local animal shelter — There’s a bit of a story here.  I’m generally allergic to cats and rather scared of dogs.  Let’s just get it out there & I will own this.  I’m completely petrified of most cold blooded animals.  Barn yard animals I find pretty & pretty stinky.

During my college years, my mother got involved with the Chicago Anti-Cruelty Society as a foster parent for baby kittens.  When I would go home for break, the house would be occupied by 1-3 smaller feline friends.  There’s a much longer story here- but just rest assured; baby kittens are extremely cute & loving & wonderful – especially when you only have till they weigh 2.2 lbs and are eight weeks old. (right before they go crazy)

When I started to work at the boarding school (see: last job before the current masters), I found a local shelter and along with my partner, we started to care for foster babies of our own.

Our smallest family was just one cute baby while our largest family was a mamma who gave birth in my living room to 7 wonderful babies.  (that’s a lot of feline running around the place)  Fortunately, once kittens turn around 8-9 weeks old is right when they start to groom themselves which involves licking & this is what releases the allergins that drive me up the wall.  So- foster care is PERFECT for me.

This work was all through the Dakin/Pioneer Valley Humane Society.  They are wonderful folks if you live in Western Massachusetts.

So- currently, I live in Indianapolis, in a place where I am not allowed to have pets.  So, I volunteer a few (infrequent) hours at the local animal shelter.  Since I’m afraid of dogs, I don’t walk the dogs (their biggest need).  Instead, I go into the cat room & look for the younger cats & pet them.  I’ll go around the cat room & fill all the cat’s water bowls.

So, that’s the long version of what I do with these two things.  The WHY is very different.  Basically, for both, it is to help me maintain balance & to connect with individuals outside of my profession.  I love being able to meet new people and connecting with others in a different & new environment.

Since you were wondering, the photos are of one of the families that I fostered while in MA – all lovely babies & a fantastic mommy.  I posted the photos in order from day of birth, days old, 4 weeks & 8 weeks.

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