Volunteering in Place

I figured that being furloughed would be like practicing for retirement.  So it’s been surprising to me that I’m struggling.  I’m not as happy as I thought I would be and some days it’s felt like time is stretching out endlessly in front of me.   Last weekend I sat myself down (well, figuratively) to try to grapple with my problem.

It didn’t take long to realize that furlough during shelter-in-place is NOT like practicing for retirement, so my expectations were out of whack.  Although I had never actually planned my retirement, I did have some things that I wanted to do when I had the time – volunteering was big on the list.  I want to volunteer at my neighborhood library, the Crisis Nursery, Feed My Starving Children, maybe the Arboretum or even one of the zoos (although I expect there is a pretty good waiting line for these spots).  I know I wouldn’t be a good Humane Society volunteer; not sure I could pass the training and even if I did, I’d probably end up with six cats and seven dogs by the end of my first week.  For now, volunteering in person is off my table.

After some thought, I decided that I COULD contribute by making and sending cards.  Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve seen few card-making opportunities online in which organizations are soliciting card donations to send to sick kids, folks in essential services jobs and medical personnel and decided that this is right up my alley; I have a passion for it AND I don’t need to leave the house for supplies – I can easily make cards for months without having to get anything (yeah, I know, kinda sad)!

I’ve sent off two packets so far for essential services folks and also a stack of medical personnel cards as well (see photo).   When it rains next, I’ll spend a day doing cards for kids.  It’s not exactly a new lease on life but I find that I’m feeling a little better this week.  I also decided to make garden thank you cards – for letting people know that I appreciate their gardens on my daily walk.  And, of course, if anybody needs any cards – I’m your gal – just let me know!

Do you have any favorite volunteer gigs when we’re not sheltering in place? 

29 thoughts on “Volunteering in Place”

  1. my one big start up i keep in the front of my brain while i’m trying to reinvent a livelihood is the one where supporting the non profit (s) and causes you care about gets looked after by shopping at and or partnering with business that agree to give a percentage of each transaction to the causes you choose to support

    everyone has a cause that speaks to them. it’s always deeply personal and often really distant and far removed from what the public at large would come up with.

    it’s not that i’m not moved by lions dying in africa it’s just not going to move me enough to act. i like the library and the guthrie and music and art but how do you support these things. and then a couple times a year a tragedy strikes somewhere and that previously unthought of cause is front and center for the moment

    if the dollars you spend can not only pay for stuff but also support the causes you care about all the better

    i hope to get it nailed down in the next year or two
    i like the idea

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Husband has jumped into taking care of our church vegetable garden with great gusto, although it makes him pretty anxious to do it perfectly. It consists of 6 waist-high raised beds for veggies, and nicely designed perennial flower beds to keep weeded and trimmed. The Lutheran gardening girl scout and her mom assist with the veggie beds. He is off this morning already to plant the tomato and cucumber and pepper plants. The adjustment to semi retirement after leaving the rez has been a little difficult for him, but he seems to be settling down and less preoccupied this week.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. My work this month has been filled with one crisis after another, as the toll from the Corona virus stress increases. There is a strange adrenalin rush in dealing with these cases, even though my involvement with them mainly consists of doing court-ordered commitment examinations for adults. I hesitate to say that work is more fun, but it sure has become more interesting of late. I still want to retire next year, but my retirement account has taken a hit and I may need to work longer than I hoped.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Your comment raises concern, Renee. “Adrenaline rush” can end in burnout. We live in interesting times. Maybe it is a consolation that if things continue to go badly, the world will realize it needs people with your gifts.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. OT – I’ve been wondering, Steve, how your daughter and her family are faring during this pandemic. Has Molly been furloughed? How about your s-i-l? This is another tough break for them, hope they’re OK.


        1. Thanks for asking, PJ. Actually, they are doing well. Molly would be quick to tell you she is working too hard, she knows how good it is that she is working. She works in HR. Since so many other folks at the college have been furloughed, she has been extremely busy. Her husband’s hours have been trimmed slightly. My grandson, god bless him, has been resilient through this whole thing.

          I just got a long list of virus jokes. One of them was:

          “Well, it’s Day One of home-schooling, and I’m sitting here trying to figure how I can get this kid transferred to another class.”

          Liked by 5 people

      2. Yes, I agree about the burnout concern. I am working hard on self care with gardening and cooking and keeping in touch with our children.

        Liked by 2 people

  4. I’m sorry, vs, that you’ve been struggling. This crisis is taking it’s toll on everyone. Glad you had the good sense to put some mental energy into figuring out what was going on with you, and then do something about it.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Just Big Brothers Big Sisters for the past 20 yrs. Doesn’t take much time-wise, but worrying about my Littles every day makes it seem like it occupies more of my time. I wish I could do some in-person volunteering now too, but being older and having a wife with some minor asthma issues, it’s not smart of me to interact with others any more than necessary.

    But I’ve been spending our $2400 “Free money!” (yeah, right) on local small businesses and charities, donating it back into the community. Rather fun to just write a check on a whim knowing that the money is earmarked for people who need it far more than we do.

    Chris in Owatonna

    Liked by 5 people

    1. We’ve been doing something similar with our check. Husband has been buying art from a couple of struggling artist friends, and I have been supporting a couple of friends with start-up businesses, and putting generous tips in the tip jars of of musicians who on on-line mini-concerts. Physically I just don’t have the energy to be of much help to anyone, so it feels good to be able to help friends keep the wolf from the door by supporting them in helpful ways that don’t feel like charity. Not that there’s anything wrong with charity, but in these situations, it just feels better this way, for all parties, I’m sure.

      I hadn’t really thought of this before, but now that I do, I’m particularly pleased to notice the several of these entrepreneurs are women.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. We don’t normally eat out once a week, for a number of reasons, but now we feel almost an obligation to order take-out at least once a week. It’s not enough to make that much of a difference, but if enough people are doing it, it helps.

        One friend owns a wedding farm in western Wisconsin. Obviously, they’re struggling since every scheduled wedding party has been cancelled. This year they are putting in an extra large garden, have more chickens, a couple of lambs, and several pigs. They are working extremely hard to try to make this work.

        Also, Mellissa is a wonderful cook, so she cooks up large batches of various foods, all with their farm fresh meat, vegetables and such. You never know what to expect, but it’s usually pretty darn good. Last week she had made nettle pesto, plus several other things. We’re a group of maybe 20-25 people here on the West Side where she once lived and ran a business, who order her offerings regularly. She delivers to our doorstep once a week, and we pay her via Venmo or PayPal.

        Another friend, this one in Northfield, has been furloughed from her job as a librarian at one of the colleges, Carleton, I think. (Her husband is self-employed.) She and her husband have converted their entire yard into a flower farm. He’s originally from the Netherlands, so has a special affinity for tulips. They have created as sort of CSA for bouquets of flowers which they deliver to you doorstep every Monday. I don’t normally buy twenty bucks worth of flowers for myself every week, but now I buy two (one that I give to a different friend each week). In addition to me getting farm fresh flowers, I get to surprise a friend, plus my friend who runs the business donates a smaller bouquet to a nursing home or care facility in Northfield for each large bouquet you buy. That’s getting a lot of bang for my buck, I think.

        Liked by 3 people

        1. Guess I don’t think of it on that grand of a scale, BiR, but I am reaching out to friends; they know that I care. I realize, of course, that the grander scale of the economy is made up of all the smaller entities that keep it ticking along. I wish that more people were willing to make small sacrifices for others.

          Here’s an example of a creative and caring person on the West Side. Suddenly, pinwheels started appearing in people’s front yards. No one knows who is planting them there, they seem to be appearing randomly, but people are really responding to them. It’s lifting their spirits that someone, anyone, thought enough of them to make this effort. It hasn’t reached my side of Robert Street yet, so perhaps I need to round up some kids to make it happen over here? Or perhaps this side of Robert Streets need to come up with a different idea to keep our spirits aloft?

          Liked by 3 people

      2. We have not ever received our stimulus money and when I go onto the IRS website do what you are supposed to do, it says “Figures do not match!” Then it shuts me out. When you call you just listen to the IRS phone cue and never get an answer. Looks like #45 found out I disagree with his approach to the Presidency and punished me. However, today I received a fund-raising letter from him. I think I will send it back saying I cannot give him money since he did not give me my money.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Trust me, Jacque, there’s plenty of evidence out that I hate his guts, and we got our check almost immediately. Something has gone wrong in the process if you still haven’t received it. Keep on investigating.

          Liked by 2 people

        2. I got my stimulus very promptly. Followed up with a letter that had Donald Trump’s signature on it, taking credit for the whole thing.


  6. A lot of my usual volunteer gigs involve singing, so those have evaporated for now – have you read that singing is considered one of the most dangerous activities we can do?? because of the # and type of droplets dispersed, etc.

    And it’s doubtful that UU’s Fall Book Sale, will take place this fall.
    What feels good these days is helping put together our UU church’s little E-service – music, poems, stories, Random Acts of Kindness, Joys and Concerns. I may even join another committee to see if we can keep it going through the summer (which we usually take off).

    Yesterday Husband and I started volunteering at Kinstone, https://www.kinstonecircle.com/about-us/
    an outdoor acreage just across the river in Wisc. that is the Driftless’ answer to Stonehenge…“a land restoration and human rejuvenation project. This 30 acre site is a modern megalithic garden on the bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River”. I got to sweep out the Chapel et al., while Husband helped clear sticks and brush form an area that needs mowing. It’s beautiful, peaceful, and outside, and we’ll do this regularly for at least the summer. Thankful to have found something new to do.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. I am too late to Rise and Shine for the second day—my mornings are too busy of late.

    I think I have mentioned before that my favorite volunteer gig is with the Iowa 4H Foundation where we have a small scholarship in my father’s name. It is a large foundation with about 90 scholarships, so I help screen applicants for them. It gives me a lift each early Spring when I look through information of these industrious kids. I hear many complaints about kids from this generation. After I am done looking at their resumes, I feel good about the future of humankind.

    In the last 5 years their system has gone entirely to online screening. 10 years ago I had to physically travel to the offices that are part of Iowa State University in Ames, Ia.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. My niece did one of those Facebook fundraiser things for her Birthday asking for $1000 for 4H. She’s at $925 after the first day!
      4H was big for her and her mom
      And our family too.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. That’s great. Good for your niece.

        I hesitantly did a FB fundraiser for my birthday this year. Hesitantly because it seemed a bit presumptuous to ask for a donation from people who wouldn’t normally give me a birthday present. The fundraiser was for the ACLU, and I set the goal of $200. I kicked it off with a $20 donation from me. Much to my surprise, I raised $550.00 dollars. Most of it from people I didn’t expect anything from.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. My volunteer tax preparation shifts weree canceled after the first few weeks. All the Fix-It Clinics have been canceled through September. We find out tomorrow whether there will be a Fair this year, but I’m thinking it’s unlikely, so my Humane Soiety shifts will probably not happen this year.

    Although I like my volunteer gigs, it’s rather nice to have an emptier schedule these days. I could get used to this.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Rise and Shine Baboons,

    I love “Where in the World” with VS. I never would have guessed this one—I was thinking that it was a rerun from years ago, until I read some posts.

    I am wondering where in the world to go this summer. I can’t imagine that travel outside my car is advisable. I am thinking “Up Nort” somewhere in an isolated spot. Anyone know of a COVID free rental somewhere? I can take my mask and my bleach wipes with me in the car. I am already restless to go somewhere/do something. Usually this weekend I go to Iowa to decorate graves and visit my mother. The cemetery is open, but Mom’s Memory Care Unit is not, so home I stay.

    Liked by 1 person

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