Positive Changes – Volunteerism

Yay, a positive post! (While I found my last post to be pretty invigorating, I have a feeling it might not have been the easiest or most fun read for you folks.) While looking over some of the cutouts that Dave and I found in our many, many old magazines for our New Year’s collage, there was a noticeable trend to focus our attentions towards our house, our interests, our relationship, and ourselves. Boy, that must sound self-involved, but what it really means is that we would like to simplify our lives to what we “need,” and throw back in a little more of what we “want,” rather than what we found ourselves wasting a lot of time on.

So, this is one post in a series entitled “Positive Change.” I’ll be sharing my own goals towards positive change in my life, and hope to influence some positivity in some others’ lives — be it through my actions or maybe even by inspiring others who read megactsout to insight a little change in their own 2011 lives. 🙂 You never know, one kind word can reach a lot of people.

As you see from the title, this first Positive Change post is about volunteerism. As far as I’m concerned, volunteering is a win-win situation. The person volunteering gets new life experiences, a new perspective, and that incredible sense that you’re not wasting the life you’ve been given. Simultaneously, the organization or individual that you’re giving your time to (hopefully) gets something wonderful out of it, too. Yay, yahtzeeeee, everybody wins!!!

I’ve been involved with the Ilion Little Theatre Club for awhile. While I definitely volunteer my time there (I only got paid when I was the theater’s cleaner — but over 1/2 of the time I either couldn’t track down the treasurer or I’d lose track of how many months I’d cleaned, so I just didn’t request payment — they’re a non-profit, for cryin’ out loud), I still don’t consider myself a “volunteer.” There are, at any given time, a dozen to two or even three dozen folks who give their time to not only put on pretty darn good shows, but to keep the place up and running. Being on the board, I don’t feel as if I’m “volunteering” anymore. I more feel like it’s my duty, an unpaid job that, while sometimes daunting and stressful, keeps on givin’. So, I guess you’d call me a volunteer at the Little Theatre, but I’d more say that I just feel responsible to help the place and its legacy going on.

For the past few years, I’ve joined my sister (and, at times, her darling husband) in volunteering at the annual Great American Irish Festival in Frankfort, NY. The first year, we were in Band Hospitality (there are some AWWWWESOME Irish rock groups); the next, we did tickets (nice to keep busy); last year, we took care of clean-up during the event (which was, admittedly, draining and disgusting). At the end of the weekend, a volunteer party is given for free, so, again, I don’t feel much like it’s volunteering since we get such an incredible perk, plus free admittance throughout the weekend.

In 2011 (and beyond), I’m hoping to add a new activity to my list of volunteering. I’ve always been a museum-goer; specifically, historical museums (although I do appreciate art museums nearly as much — art, in my mind, IS history). As a kid, my mother knew this (and I’m pretty sure she was also as much of a history buff as I was), and for any summer trips that she planned, a stop at a state historical park or a privately-run museum was a must — much to the chagrin of my stepdad and sister, who’d much rather hit the beach.

For example, I’ve been to the Adirondack Museum as much as I have Cooperstown’s Baseball Hall of Fame (which, if you’re from this area, is a lot). However, one of our last family trips was, instead, a week at a cabin on Raquette Lake (in the Adirondacks). I spent it as would any moody 16-year-old who didn’t have a friend along — miserable and slouchy, while reading and re-reading “Walden.” Depressing. One day, Mom shouted out the back door that anyone who wanted to go to the museum should meet her at the car in 5 minutes. Very unlike my mother. So, who, out of all of us shows up at the car? Mom and I. And, man, we had a blast. The good thing about museums is that, while their regular exhibits often stay the same, they have fascinating rotating “specialties.” Purdy cool.

So, why all the talk about museums? Well, I contacted a very nice lady with museumwise.org who helped to point me in the direction of volunteering at a few possible local spots. I’m going to first attempt to get in touch with the folks at the General Herkimer Home in Little Falls. Being my grandfather’s granddaughter, I know all too well who Gen. Herkimer was and his importance in the valley as well as in the Revolution. I love the fact that I get to live in the Mohawk Valley, with all its history just built in for the taking. (Not that we’ll live here forever. But, I’ve always appreciated, regardless of current financial instability and downright depression in the area, the relevance and serious respect owed to the settlers, the Native Americans, the past events that make it known.

If they’re not looking for volunteers for the summer (who knows, with our state’s budget), I’ll contact the Herkimer Historical Society to see if they’d like any free hands (literally), then work out to Cooperstown. I could see traveling once or twice a week throughout the summer to learn about how museum works and do whatever needs doing at the Farmers’ Museum or the Baseball Hall of Fame. Makes me excited to think about it — ahhh, gas prices. 😉

I’m still considering whether or not I should do summer school again this year. There were plenty of cons to the job last year; the pros, honestly, were the money and the amount of hours I had to work in relation to the money. But, it would leave me with afternoons and a three-day weekend to volunteer at a museum.

Of course, I write this on a snow day, and it still seems to be coming down pretty hard outside. So, maybe I’m just excited to think about the summer. But, I don’t think so. This should be interesting.