Monday, January 31, 2011

Day 31

SafeHouse was soooo much fun, again, tonight! Once again, a very organized church group came by, with more volunteers than I have ever seen there, so that meant socializing! Saw some familiar faces tonight so played catch up with all of them. It was nice being able to check in with people and see how they've been doing since the last time I saw them. Conversations went from the weekend warm weather, to music, to flying, to mental health, back to weather. There was a lot of joking around, its been a bit since I last laughed that much - so a big thanks to all the people who came to SafeHouse tonight and made it such a wonderful night!

So it's been a month of giving back to others. There have been several different projects - most of which I've enjoyed, I've met some inspiring people who make me want to keep giving back, and I've made many new friends. It has been exhausting but the joy of giving back keeps me going. It's a wonderful feeling and I'm looking forward to the next 334 days!

Thank you to all of you for your support, whether its following the blog, liking a Facebook link, or coming out to make a difference - I truly appreciate it! Your support and encouragement make it even easier to go back day after day! So, again, THANK YOU!!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Day 30

It was moving day at SafeHouse this afternoon! I think the move is in preparation for a computer lab to be set up. So I spent most of my time there today upstairs helping with the move. Once that was done I came downstairs to a kitchen filled with volunteers. They were so organized! They had broken up into different groups: some were putting together the dinner bags, others were outside socializing, while others practiced their singing for the evenings service. Most of the volunteers were teens, so again it was good to see them come by and help out.

I hung out for a little while, talked to a couple people, but a lot of the familiar faces were missing. Maybe I'll see them tomorrow evening.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Day 29

After a night in midtown (proof that giving back to your community can be done while your social life stays in tact), Dona and I went to Open Hand to help out this morning. Open Hand helps people prevent or better manage chronic disease through comprehensive nutrition care, which combines home-delivered meals and nutrition education as a means to reinforce the connection between informed food choices and improved quality of life. Visit their website for more info:

We helped out with meal delivery today: coolers were filled with pre-packed trays, milk, and nutritional supplements, and we dropped these off to people's homes. You are given a route, depending on the amount of time you are able to give. We then sat through an orientation because its a lot more than just handing out food, its giving the right meal type to the right person. After that, we were on our way! We had nine stops on our route. All our deliveries were successful, meaning someone was home to take the food.

We had a good time driving around and meeting all our people. You definitely get a sense of helping because these are people who aren't able to get out on their own or who are too sick to even make a meal for themselves. We got back to the Open Hand office in about 2hours and met with the volunteer coordinator to set up some more times to go help out. They need a lot of help with meal deliveries, if anyone is interested please visit their website or comment to this post to get more info on how you can get involved.

Dona - thank you, thank you, thank you!

Day 28

Even though I've only been going to SafeHouse for a few weeks I am already attached to the people there. When I got there today I found out that one of the staff members no longer works there. He was a really cool person and probably the one person I had gotten to know the most. As I was being told this my eyes teared up and I just felt bad, its amazing how we get attached to people in such little time. I wish him well and who knows, maybe one day we'll run into each other again.

On a lighter note, another great night on the lot - I didn't even make it into the building today. As soon as I got there I met a new person, someone I had seen before but only met tonight. We talked about careers and ambitions and he shared what he wants to do with his life. He hopes to go back to school soon, so we talked about that for a while. I also got to meet one of the kids who comes to SafeHouse, he is 13years old and has as much energy as any other teenager. He kept bouncing around between different groups of people. The few minutes he spent around me he shared some of his favorite subjects at school, his favorite sports, and his favorite movies.

The last thing I'd like to share about tonight, this is something one of the guys there told me - trust your instincts. This is the same individual who has to tell me about why he moved to Atlanta. As soon as he saw me outside he came over to say hello, and we then talked for about 10minutes. He shared a story about being out in the wilderness and using his instincts to help him out of there. He has great stories to tell, all of which come with a moral - today's being trust your instincts.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Day 27

I was at the Atlanta Community Food Bank (ACFB) this evening. No meat this time, instead we did the regular canned goods, boxed foods, and personal care items. There was a group of high school teens helping out tonight so there was a lot of energy in that warehouse (add some good music to it all, and they just kept dancing). They definitely made the night a lot more entertaining! I was at the scales today: boxes are filled, then put on the scale. Here we make sure they are within the weight limits for that type of food, drop an ACFB letter in there, stick a label on the box, tape it up, and send it to the pallet. We boxed 3911lbs of food today which would serve 2607 families. All that in two hours! Pretty amazing...

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Day 26

I went back to MedShare this evening for a couple of hours and had another good night. Today we did a second sort: going through similar items that were placed in bins (first sort) and boxing them if we had enough. The items we were boxing all came from the IV bins and so we had to be really mindful about the expiration dates. I never knew there were so many different parts and kinds of IV stuff!! We boxed over 35 boxes of IV related stuff! Apparently these items are in high demand in developing countries because people are usually given medications in the form of an IM versus a pill (people are less likely to take pills).

On a lighter note, I also got to stab at these huge dialysis bags (good way to get out some frustration!). They were expired and, because of the fluid, really heavy! So we stabbed holes into them to drain them before we threw them out. Who knew that volunteering tonight would be a stress reliever too!?!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Day 25

So I had the opportunity to see a fascinating group of volunteers at SafeHouse today. They had tents set up outside, under which they had hot chocolate for people and were making chicken noodle soup. They then had a table set up with "goody bags" (socks, toothbrushes, toothpaste, razors, and other personal care items) which they were passing out to people. In the kitchen they were making dinner boxes/bags for everyone. They just took over the night and had several volunteers come help out it was really well organized and people were very grateful!

It's interesting to see the different groups that come out to serve dinner. They all have their own way of doing things and it has been fun just joining in and listening to their different stories about past nights they've come out to SafeHouse. Their time and effort is truly appreciated by all those that come to SafeHouse for a meal, this is especially evident when you're standing out on the lot looking at the line for seconds or when people are expressing their gratitude as they leave for the night. These volunteer groups are really incredible!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Day 24

Lately the lots at SafeHouse have been clearing out a little faster than I had initially seen, but tonight was a good social night (maybe because of the good food and slightly warmer weather!). Everyone stayed around for a while and I got to talk to several people. I saw the gentleman from a couple weeks ago who was supposed to tell me his reason for moving to Atlanta. He was surprised that I remembered the conversation. We still didn't get to that story though because he had to get to the shelter on time. He says he'll tell me next time.

I also hung out with another elderly gentleman who I met yesterday. He is soft spoken and kind. It was good to see him back, he's one of those people that seems to just be content, despite whatever else is going on. Hopefully see him again soon!

So it was another wonderful night, there was good food (thanks to this awesome group of volunteers), good people (inside and outside), and good music (courtesy of the talented staff/volunteers).

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Day 23

It was another good night at SafeHouse. The church group that came in was super organized and didn't need any extra help in the kitchen so I socialized for most of the evening. I usually spend the time before the service helping out in the kitchen but today I spent it out on the lot. There was quite a bit going on outside. Different groups of people were chatting, some were on their own just waiting. One lady in particular caught my attention - she was dancing around the lot, talking to herself, and then screaming at nobody in particular. I then had a long conversation with a gentleman who cleans windows; we spoke about window cleaning and being up 60+ floors, what it was like for him growing up on a farm, health care, mental health, food, relationships, and so much more!
Before I left he thanked me for talking to him - some people just want to have a normal conversation. It still amazes me that a conversation is all it takes to make a difference in someone's day!

I'm going back tomorrow, feel free to come hang out!!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Day 22

Dona and I had an early morning volunteer opportunity today. We joined the Atlanta Local Food Initiative and helped out with their annual fruit tree sale! The Atlanta Local Food Initiative (ALFI) is a network that joins individuals, corporations, nonprofits, universities, and governmental agencies to build a local food system that enhances human health, promotes environmental renewal, fosters local economies, and links rural and urban communities. The idea behind the fruit tree sale is to spread edible landscapes throughout the city and state. All proceeds from the sale benefit the Atlanta Local Food Initiative to further its work to build healthy, local food communities.

We arrived at 7:30am along with several other volunteers. There were many different tasks including setting the trees up outside, helping people buy their trees, directing people, and carrying trees to cars. We spent a lot of time directing people to the tree sale and encouraging others to buy trees. It was definitely a different (and cold!) experience but it was great learning about ALFI and their mission!

Dona - thank you for bearing the cold with me!!!!!!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Day 21

Hema and I went back to SafeHouse this evening. There was no group volunteering tonight, so we got to help make and pack sandwiches and then serve them. There wasn't as big a crowd as normal because there was another dinner being served at the same time but there were a lot of familiar faces. While making the sandwiches some of the guys were playing music (piano, drums, and I think someone was rapping), they were really good, so we had some good beats to work to. A lot of the people I've met at SafeHouse have amazing talent and it's great to see them showcase their talent here!

Thanks for coming out today Hema - wouldn't have gotten done with those sandwiches as fast as we did without you!!!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Day 20

I spent the evening at SafeHouse today and got to volunteer with a youth group from a local church. Joe, you were right - what an amazing group of kids! They made all the food, did the service, sang (got the crowd singing too), spoke, served food, mingled, and cleaned up everything! They had such a great attitude and had no qualms about hanging out with everyone. It was good to see teens come out, without being forced, to make a difference in someone else's day.

My favorite conversation tonight - a gentleman spoke to me about smiling and how it is the best way to start your day. He then said to me: everytime you come here you're smiling, its good, because your smile can make somebody else's day! Another reason for me to keep smiling now :)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Day 19

I tried out a new volunteer opportunity today and enjoyed it, so I will be going back for sure! MedShare is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the environment and healthcare through the efficient recovery and redistribution of surplus medical supplies and equipment to underserved healthcare facilities in developing countries. Like Global Soap, MedShare takes something (unused medical supplies) that would normally end up in land fills and sends them to places that are in need. The various items come in from local and national hospitals as well as distributors of medical supplies. Hospitals send in their unused surplus items. For example, if you undergo surgery you pay for a whole bag of supplies even if you don't use all those supplies, due to legal issues the hospital has to throw away everything - used and unused. MedShare takes those unused supplies and sends it to clinics and hospitals around the world. Distributors ship supplies to hospitals, but if any of the packaging is damaged they throw out the entire package, even though the contents are all perfectly fine! MedShare takes those perfect supplies as well. Visit their website to learn more

So today I helped by unpacking pallets of supplies, sorting through them and specifically looking at any expiration dates, then packing similar items if there were enough to go in a box or putting them in bins to collect more. It was a lot more work than I thought because I was unfamiliar with the different items, but the staff and long-term volunteers are so helpful! I'm looking forward to going back soon!

A view of half the warehouse - this would all normally end up in a landfill, but MedShare is sending it out to clinics and hospitals in need!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Day 18

Went back to Kashi Atlanta tonight to help with the Street Meals program. This time I was at the peanut butter station so by the end of the night all I could smell was peanut butter! There weren't as many volunteers as last time but this group was much more talkative. The group at my end of the table consisted of students (high school and college), a professor at Ga Tech, a musician, and an accountant.

We had a really interesting conversation that started with working and being passionate about your job and then slowly switched to happiness. One of the volunteers questioned why people stay in school for 8-12years after high school and why people even consider going back to school in their 30s or later. The professor responded that in their early 20s most people are lost and just following the crowd and in their late 20s to early 30s people really figure out who they are and what it is they want to do for the rest of their lives; they find their passion. And that to be happy with what you are doing you need to have passion. Just something to think about!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Day 17

SafeHouse has already become one of my favorite places to go help out. Raksha and I took advantage of the holiday and went during the day today to help some kids from an elementary school give out food. We started by walking to some of the local parks to invite people to have lunch with us. The kids did a great job with asking everyone to come to SafeHouse and really put a smile on a lot of people's faces.

When we got back to SafeHouse the tables were set up for lunch. Everyone was invited inside and asked to take a seat while the kids served them sandwiches and kool aid. We walked around and spent some time talking to different people. The stage was then opened up for people to come up and sing/recite poetry. A couple of people sang for everyone - they were really good and, when I spoke to them later, they told me they already had one cd out and were going to work on their next one soon! Another gentleman came up and recited some beautiful poetry. While another came up and did a rap - before he started he told me he'd give us the clean version. His rap was something else! I was paying attention to the lyrics (it was about his journey from South Carolina and life on the streets) and they made so much sense - the whole thing was put together really well! The last guy that came up also did some poetry for us but he started by asking the group for four words (if you read Dona's post from Day 14, this is the same guy). He would then use those four words in his poem. He did two of these for us and, to answer Dona's question from when she met him, the poems were different :)

Raksha and I also met Tippy  - I think she's a Terrier mix - and her owner on our walk around the city. They both made it to the lunch and Raksha spent some time playing with and feeding Tippy, as well as giving her owner some tips on caring for Tippy.

Overall, another wonderful day of giving! I'd like to say a big thank you to Raksha, Kenny, Victor, and Simone for coming out today - you guys are awesome!!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Day 16

What an awesome night at SafeHouse! So the church that was supposed to bring food tonight wasn't able to make it, which meant making a meal for all the people coming by! We made hotdogs, chili, baked beans, and then had coleslaw, fruit, and bagels; made plates for everyone and served them.  It was a very random meal but everyone was grateful and many came back for seconds.

We also got to spend some time socializing - my favorite thing to do there. One person in particular stood out for me tonight. I met her my first night of volunteering here and she was doing really well. She was able to have a good conversation with me. Today, not so much. Our conversation was centered on religion, but her thoughts were tangential. She knew she wasn't doing so good and kept saying she needed to figure things out, but she couldn't verbalize what that was. She also had some delusions around religion and about her own identity. Talking with her today reminded me of working with people in crisis in the emergency room. She's a sweet lady and I really hope she comes back during the day to get some help.

Dona - thank you for coming out today!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Day 15

Finally able to go out and give some time to a worthy cause!! Today I went to the Books for Africa warehouse in Smyrna. Books for Africa is the world’s largest shipper of donated books to the African continent. Since 1988, Books For Africa has shipped over 22 million high-quality text and library books to children and adults in 45 African countries. The Smyrna location has been open for about 2years now.

So when I arrived this morning there was a huge crowd of volunteers outside. Once inside the warehouse the staff divided us up into smaller groups so they could explain the process. Books (from individual donations, school systems, libraries, and some publishing companies) are taken out of huge boxes and separated by subject and grade level. They ask you to use your judgment on sorting by grade level because its not always clear when you're looking through the books. Books are then piled onto tables in their appropriate section. Once the table gets filled the books are boxed.

I worked with three other first-timers sorting books. They were definitely a fun group who I hope to see again next time!

I had to blow this picture up so you could see Botswana on there!!!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Day 14

After being snowed in for 3 (and a half) days, I had been itching to be OUT... OUT of my house and AWAY from the tedious tasks that consume my life!

Joe from Safehouse ( let us know that they'd be open for the first time this week!!

When I finally got there after battling an hour and a half of Atlanta traffic... There was a church group already there with hot dogs, chips, and cookies ready to go. I was a little disappointed with myself, for being late and for not really 'doing' much. Had I been there earlier I could've helped pack the food, or clean...

Stood around while church was still in session, wondering if I'd come out here in vain, when I ran into a Safehouse volunteer. I got a tour, a little bit of history... and some perspective.

He reiterated that they needed me to just be myself and just be available to their clients. Clients. Not Homeless people, or any other derogatory terms that people associate with them, but clients requiring my service.

Phew, so I ventured out into the cold and started mingling with our clients! =)

Tonight I met Craig. A poet and a historian. He asked me to give him four words, and he'd spit out a poem for me using those four words.

I couldn't make it easy for him, so I took about 10 minutes to ask him to string together: distraught, tires, hope, and stars in a logical and beautiful manner.

And he did! I can't recite it for you here, but it was great and you can head to safehouse to hear it for yourself. Now when you give Craig, (oh wait, Lil L4 somethin... Argh. Forgot his nickname) four other words and I hear the same poem, I told him I'd have some words... Lol.

But tonight I walk away with MY poem, and knowing that I serviced Craig, a Safehouse Client.

Good Night!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Day 13

It's been a long week of virtual giving and I can't wait to be out in the community again! But on a positive note, we've been able to find several virtual giving opportunities, and even more important, we've had your support in giving! From saving dolphins to donating rice, I really appreciate all the support and time you guys have given this.

Today I'd like to share a couple more online opportunities, courtesy of Aarti - thank you!

The first one is just a click and donate site (again based on advertisements/sponsorships). So today I donated: 1.1 cups of food; helped a woman in need get a free mammogram; and provided health care to a child. The site has about six different click and donate tabs.

Another click and donate site - On this one I was able to help one child; save 7.4 sq ft of rainforest; protect 11000sq ft of big cat habitat; supported life saving research for cancer; helped a shelter pet; helped protect baby seals; protected 100 sq ft of ocean; fed a rescued primate; offset my computer's energy use to stop global warming; helped provide justice for women who are abused; and helped protect threatened wolves. Again, multiple click and donate pages on this site, it takes just a few minutes, so check them all out!

And, with my newest addiction - - I've donated 6220 grains of rice!

For me, there's one more day of virtual giving and then back to the community Saturday! Cannot wait!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Day 12

And on the 12th day of Giving... we're unable to give the way we want to!! Sigh...

The city of Atlanta's shutdown for yet another day due to the snow that we're unaccustomed to! Argh. We find ourselves unable to head over to Project Open Hands or Safehouse, BUT we have recruited more players to Yay! has taken a lifeform of it's own. While the rest of us ( Chandni, myself, and everyone listed from days before) dove right into English vocabulary, Giselle and Tamika (our newest recruit) have taken on the Language and Math categories!

It's SO see each and everyone of you follow and commenting on our blog, liking our posts, reposting our link on your Facebook pages!

Thank you... Gracias... Dhanyavadh... Shukran!!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Day 11

Day 2 of being snowed in, and we're a little bummed! Safehouse is still closed, as is half of Atlanta. It's become somewhat of an obsession... An amazing one though!

In support of Chandni and her cause, we've all made every effort to not break this cycle of giving. This morning we wake up to a text from Raksha, a close friend of ours, asking what we were going to do?! Last night we rallied more support from Giselle, who gave us a few more options for us to volunteer with. Raksha promises to do a little bit more investigating to see where soaps from a hotel she's connected to goes. A handful of us, are now all playing and throwing random, absurd words (like 'homborg') at each other and entertaining each other through what we feel may be menial, but the world sees as a significant effort to give back.

Success? Of Course it is! While one of us may not be physically volunteering at a given location, several of us have logged on to to collectively donate bushels of rice to someone in need. I've managed to glance at the website in detail and I leave you with this... and excerpt from a blog off the website itself:

"Marie Anika is Haitian and 8 years old. Her dream of working in a bank is made all the more possible by a meal of beans and rice that she receives at school.

Why? Because providing a meal at school is an incentive for parents to send their children to school rather than send them to work. By providing a meal to Marie, we help her to grow strong physically and mentally, as well as safeguard her education.

Following the devastating earthquake in Haiti one year ago, Freerice players were raising rice for the country to help the people affected by the disaster including girls like Marie.

At the moment, Marie still lives in a tent where her house used to be before the earthquake. But that hasn’t stopped her from going to school or dreaming about the future thanks to the hearty meals she eats everyday in class.

Many thanks to all the Freerice players for the time you dedicate to raising rice while you learn!"

Monday, January 10, 2011

Day 10

So it's been another stay in day with all the snow and ice! Once again, this meant finding ways to give from home. Today, that ended up being saving Japan dolphins by letter writing and signing petitions. Raksha told me about this worthy cause through Ribbon Naturals - and the Save Japan Dolphins site - Part of their mission is to stop fishermen in Taiji, Japan from herding dolphins to cull the most appealing for sale to zoos and aquariums, while the rest are slaughtered (if you've watched The Cove - this is the same place). It's really easy to help out, just click on the above links and you'll be able to sign the petition to stop dolphin slaughter.

Also helped feed the hungry through - 7000 grains of rice donated today!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Day 9

Today's giving was a little different from what I had in mind, but sometimes you just have to be flexible and creative :)

So I was planning to go to SafeHouse today but with the weather we have in Atlanta, SafeHouse did not open this evening. As I was driving out of town I kept thinking about what else I could do to give today. I really thought I would have to skip today and just make up the day later on, something I wasn't quite keen on. Then I remembered this from a couple years ago on facebook - freerice ( Freerice is a simple word game. As you correctly answer a question you earn/donate 10 grains of rice. Each correct answer displays an ad at the bottom of the page which funds the purchase of the rice, which is distributed through the United Nations World Food Program. I donated 5000 grains of rice!

So here's a way to give back, even when the weather tries to keep you from giving! For any of you who spend hours playing addictive games, give this one a try and feel good about helping to fight hunger!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Day 8

Dona - dressed for the club (she thought we'd make a stop at Sutra first) in her heels (see picture below) - and I went to the Global Soap Project again. We have way too much fun there - thanks to Derreck - that it's hard to think of this project as volunteering. As soon as we walked in the joking around started, we've only been there once before but he makes you feel so welcome!

Today we spent a lot of time at the machine breaking the soap bars down into a powder (the technical term is spiders). It really looks like snow coming out the machine, and the fragrances from the soap are so much stronger. We also did some boxing, and some salvaging of bars (my OCD kicked in and I had to have perfect rows). Of course, there was the usual music, dancing, laughing, and being extra!

We got to meet a mechanical engineer (from Durban) working with a group from GA Tech to make Derreck a new soap machine. We were so excited to hear about his work and even more excited about what they are doing for Global Soap.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Day 7

So I went back to SafeHouse today and had another wonderful evening with the people there. Today there was less socializing and more putting together a meal. There wasn't a volunteer group (like the church groups I've seen there), instead someone dropped off some food, Joe did some impromptu singing and speaking, and a random group of us put together about 200 meals. But it was still so much fun! There's just an energy about that place, I don't know how else to describe it. It pulls you in and makes you want to keep going back.

Dona - thank you for coming out tonight to help out. I know it was appreciated!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Day 6

I had such a wonderful time at SafeHouse today! There was a church group there to do a service and give out the food. During the service I looked around to see what people were doing: some were napping, others on their cell phones, some talking, still others walking around, many people listening and nodding their heads, and one elder gentleman rocking and singing with the service. He was so full of energy, had the biggest smile on his face, was waving his arms around and singing along. He was having a really good time! Even when I saw him later on, he had the same big smile on his face, he looked like one of those people who is just content with where they are in life.

I also met another guy who left his home 16years ago to come to Atlanta. When I asked why he couldn't remember his reason. He stood with me for almost ten minutes just trying to remember his reason for moving. He promises to tell me next time.

Another person I'd like to mention...this guy used to be homeless and now helps out at SafeHouse when he can. He talked to me a little about his past and his family. He is a very talented person and also very insightful. One thing he said that stuck with me...sometimes you have to go backward before you can go forward. For him, that meant dealing with things from his past before he could let go of it and start to believe in himself again. And once he did that he was able to turn his life into what he wanted it to be.

Last thing I'd like to say tonight - if you're free tomorrow after 530pm come down to SafeHouse! I'll be there and I know they need some extra help tomorrow. The address is: 89 Ellis Street, Atlanta. Hope to see some of you there!!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Day 5

So after being stuck in bed all day recovering from a slight fever I was really excited to get out and go to the Atlanta Community Food Bank. That place is huge! They receive food donations from all the grocery stores, several organizations, and hunderds of individuals. So the warehouse is filled with boxes of food!

We worked on separating meat today. Several food stores sent in frozen meat and the volunteers were tasked with sorting them by type and making sure they were still good (not past their expiry date or not turning some weird colour). We emptied pallet after pallet of frozen meat, sorted through it all, and separated it, then made boxes with different meats to send out to people.

By the end of my two hours there we packed 7843lbs of food! It was intense, but still had a good time helping out.

Oh they have snacks at break :)

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Day 4

I helped out at Kashi Atlanta (an urban yoga ashram) today. They have a community outreach program - Street Meals - where they pack over 300 sack lunches for the homeless and then hand them out the next day. I walked in today to a room full of hard working  and jovial volunteers who were lined up at a table (kind of like an assembly line). Today the snack was peanut butter & jelly sandwiches. So, after washing your hands, you were given a spot to work. One person took all the bread out, the next group put on the peanut butter, the next did the jelly. The sandwiches were then put in bags. These were then put in brown bags along with a juice box and fruit. The youngest volunteer (an adorable 4 year old) helped decorate the brown bags. Kashi has a group of core volunteers committed to selfless service who help coordinate this project and through the project try to show volunteers the joy of community service.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Day 3

Today's project was at the Sandy Springs International Learning Center - a non-profit dedicated to teaching English as a second language to adult immigrants. I had the opportunity to chat with owners, Tere and Dwight, who teach at the center and also teach volunteers how to teach (I definitely need the latter!). They are a remarkable duo! If I remember the story correctly, the idea behind the center came when Tere met some people who could not speak or understand any English. She was amazed that they were surviving with a language barrier but immediately identified a way to help them reach their potential in a new culture. She left her job and started the learning center, which attracted not only many students, but numerous volunteers as well.

The number of students has slowly decreased, but there are still many individuals in the community who struggle with daily communication. From talking with Tere and Dwight, it would be great if we could spread the word about the center and encourage family/friends who would like to learn English as a second language to contact the Sandy Springs International Learning Center. If anyone needs more info about the center please don't hesitate to respond to this post.

Day 2

I  got to spend some time at SafeHouse Outreach today. SafeHouse Outreach is an urban outreach committed to affecting real change in the lives of those in the margins of society, by providing a hand up, not just a hand out. SafeHouse provides practical, emotional, and physical assistance to those living in the margins, and helps integrate them back into society – to lead healthy, functional lives.

A church group was there tonight providing service and dinner so I got to talk with a couple of the folks visiting SafeHouse. I met a lady who kept thanking me for being there as a volunteer and she kept expressing her gratitude for what the volunteers do for her and what SafeHouse has given her. It was my first day there (it was a little intimidating) and I didn't think I really did much, but for her, just engaging in a conversation with her and acknowledging her made a difference. SafeHouse almost provides a sense of family for the people who go there and I'm hoping that as I spend more time there they will feel more comfortable sharing their experiences with me.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Day 1

Happy New Year! So 365 Days of Giving has officially started and we couldn't have asked for a better first project. Dona and I volunteered this afternoon at Global Soap Project and had the most amazing experience!

Global Soap Project is an organization that recovers and recycles soap from American hotels. The soap is  sanitized, melted, and remolded into new bars that is then sent across the world to refugee camps (to learn more about this organization please visit: The founder of Global Soap Project, Derreck, walked us through the entire process. As he explained each step his passion for what he does was evident. Even with us asking a million questions it was clear that his drive for this project is unwavering.

We helped out with sanitizing the soap - inspecting and cleaning every bar (while listening to some good R&B). There were conversations and laughter all around, whether it was getting to know each other, sharing stories from the weekend, or discussing cultural differences. No one could feel out of place in this environment because Derreck makes it a point to keep everyone involved. His humility and his mission really makes you look at life in a different way.
Before we left, Derreck met with all the volunteers to thank them on behalf of those whose lives we had just impacted. He also talked about leading a purposeful life and how volunteering can become a part of your life, not just a one time deal. Derreck is truly an inspiration! Thank you for everything that you are doing!