Everything listed under: Volunteerism

  • Sages & Seekers: connecting generations

    I ♥ senior citizens.

    There, I said it. It’s out, and I can’t take it back. I just simple LOVE them!

    Maybe I’ve played too many games of shuffleboard or horseshoes to make a clear judgement on that statement -- or maybe it’s the cookies and brownies that come by the bucket loads from all the grandmas I amassed over my travels -- whatever the reason, all I know, is that I have a lot of fun with those who are often called our elders.

    So, when I got the chance to volunteer at the Windy Hill Senior Center in Spring Grove, I jumped at the opportunity!

    I was introduced to this organization by a group of senior line-dancers, one Wednesday afternoon, at the local coffee shop. They were a rowdy bunch of ladies whose conversation spilled over to me (they actually got me to blush) while talking and joking about their last dance session. One of the ladies eventually asked me why I was in their small town and I told her about my Pennsylvania adventure.

    Once they heard about Here A Year’s mission to connect people to good organizations and charities, they immediately told me about their senior center and its director, Tammy Miller.

    And, so, after a few more laughs and another shot of espresso, I promised the ladies I would swing by to see if I could get involved somewhere. I also told them I would make it to one of their line dance classes before the year was up -- this would come back to haunt me (just look at the slideshow above).

    I went directly from the cafe to meet with Tammy, and after a short introduction, I asked if there was anything I could do to help out. I was thinking I could teach a computer class, or help serve meals, or whatever -- but it just so happened that she was looking for a person to facilitate a class called, Sages & Seekers.

    S&S is a program which brings teenagers (the seekers) together with someone over the age of seventy (the sage) to share life stories with each other, which in turn, help break down age related barriers in the community. It’s an eight week series that met once a week, and ended with an hour-long program where the seekers “show off” their sage to their family and friends.

    It didn’t take me long to accept the task as I basically said, “when do we start”? Tammy was thrilled!

    - - - - - - -

    Now, I don’t usually end a blog in the middle of a story, but I am today.


    Well... I kind of already wrote about this event on another blog... and since I’m contracted with them (meaning I can’t repost it after it’s posted on their website), I encourage you to read {in a Paul Harvey voice} “the rest of the story” over at Create The Good’s blog. >> "Connecting through conversations"

    BTW...I hope you love senior citizens too! If you do, leave me a comment about how you connect with them in your community.

    Monday cheers Here-A-Yearers!

  • #GivingTuesday Meets Movember

    We’ve all heard of Black Friday and Cyber Monday -- so it seems quite natural to add another day to the mix with #GivingTuesday.

    #GivingTuesday (yep, it’s spelled that way with the hashtag and no space) consists of more than 2,000 recognized partners, from all 50 U.S. states, which are either registered charities, or they are for-profit businesses, schools, religious or community groups who have committed to spearhead a project that will benefit at least one 501(c)3.

    Personally, I think it’s a great reminder to keep charities in focus during the holiday season. As much fun as it is to give to family and friends, it’s equally fun to donate to a great cause. And trust me, non-profits need your gifts quite badly.

    The more I travel around to meet with charitable organizations, the more I hear about how funding is drying up. Mostly because of government cuts, the economic downturn, and general public opinion about some charities. Simply put, they need your help to continue serving their communities.

    For me, #GivingTuesday means building a fence at a local animal rescue, donating some cash to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, and raising awareness and money for Movember (men’s health initiatives & prostate cancer research) by growing out my ugly stache. (Click here to watch my Movember video or click here to donate on my Movember page.)

    So -- if you have a dollar to spare, a hand to lend, or some time to give, please do so this Tuesday (November 27, 2012) as a way to promote and encourage your favorite organizations.

    If you’re looking for some suggestions on where to give, here are just some of the places I’ve volunteered at while in Pennsylvania. They’re worth your time to check out and support.

    Special Olympics Pennsylvania

    The Super Hero Foundation

    Angel Acres Horse Haven Rescue

    Mercer Museum & Fontill Castle

    Are you participating in #GivingTuesday?

  • Random snacks of kindness - American Bear and Here A Year team up

    Hypothetical question: If a random stranger on the street approached you and offered a free cupcake -- just because -- would you take it?

    Greg Gano and Sarah Sellman from American Bear, along with myself undertook that exact experiment a couple of months ago in the beautiful city of Scranton, PA. The idea was to pass out random snacks of kindness while promoting a simple message -- be kind.

    Of course, Greg and Sarah were no strangers (bad pun--sorry) to this type of experiment as they had already been doing this type of exercise across the United States starting back in July of 2010. Their cross country adventure had them relying on strangers for a place to crash every night while travelling for two months to all the towns named “Bear” in America.

    They simply wanted to see how kind strangers would be to other strangers in need.

    Needless to say, their experiment was a success and a movie was made (click here for the trailer), BUT the lessons they learned have gone with them as they continue to promote kindness through their network of other like-minded strangers.

    So when Sarah had emailed me, I jumped at the chance to partner with them! I suggested we meet in the middle (Scranton, Wilkes-Barre area) to spread a little kindness on a Saturday morning. And with cupcakes in hand, we took to the streets.

    It took a little while for us to find some takers, but once we did, it didn’t take long to pass out pan after pan of delicious cupcakes.

    While driving back to south central PA, I had a chance to think about the day. Here are a couple of observations:

    1. It doesn’t take much to make someone’s day.

    While walking around downtown Scranton, we had the chance to interact with a variety of people - some were waiting for the bus, others were heading to the Italian Festival, and one gentleman was waiting for his sister while he was on his way back to jail -- all of them remark about how happy they were that we were there. A couple of guys were replacing a sewer line remarked that we were saints, one shop owner thought we were angels, and the two friends under the eaves made a remark that we brightened their day and gave them hope about future generations. This all happened just by showing kindness to a handful of strangers.

    2. A smile goes a long way.

    Thinking about this event makes me wonder if I should have worn a black trench coat with an evil looking bunny mask to see if what I was wearing would have affected the results of our experiment. The obvious answer is, YES! There is no doubt in my mind that when Greg, Sarah, and myself smiled and were warm and friendly to strangers, they were much more willing to enjoy a cupcake.

    3. Strangers aren't usually dangerous.

    Yes, I know what we were all taught back in grade school, but is that safety lesson meant to spill over into adulthood? It’s my belief that we tend to be wary of ordinary, everyday people because we were taught that strangers want to harm us. This simply isn’t true, and our “random snacks of kindness” campaign seemed to shine a light on this.

    Given all this, when was the last time you showed kindness to a stranger?