I got the awesome opportunity this week to work again in volunteer management! (In my pre-volunteer life 🙂 I worked as a Volunteer Manager for 10 years – for the Red Cross in Denver and the Primavera Foundation in Tucson). While much of the reason I decided to quit my job and travel is so that I could be the volunteer…the planning and coordination runs deep in my blood and when given the opportunity, I jumped at it. While I’m enjoying my work with Casa Alianza, I still have a few days a week free that I wanted to fill with a new project. I emailed HandsOn, an international organization that works with volunteers, to see if they had any ideas about non-profits in need. A lot of what HandsOn does is the matching between people and projects – especially corporate groups, so they usually have a good handle on which locations might need assistance. Turns out that HandsOn Mexico is newly getting off the ground and they needed help with project coordination. Gray Beverley, the director, emailed me right back and let me know he could use help with a corporate project that same week. So I got to spend this past week at Casa Hogar orphanage in Tlapan, where corporate team AbbVie pitched in with the young girls who live there. They painted the entrance-way posts as well as a mural in the lunch room, gardened and landscaped, cleaned and brightened the home of these young women and the Catholic sisters that live there.
I also got to make a connection with one of the sisters, Sr. Karina so hopefully Bo and I will be able to stay on as regular volunteers with the orphanage throughout the rest of our time here. I will most likely work directly with the girls and Bo will help with maintenance, gardening, and repair around the house. We have just discovered that most of Mexico goes on summer break for the month of July, so we’re hoping to get started there in August.
Part of my tasks during the project included running back and forth to the store to pick up snacks, gloves, whatever was needed really. A lovely young resident, Brenda (second from the left in the photo above) escorted me to the store when we had a lot to carry or when I needed directions. Brenda was amazing – she is originally from California and moved to Mexico City five years ago. She speaks fluent English so she was a huge help during the week when I couldn’t quite express what I needed to say. She shared her life story with me over our multiple walks and I was blown away by this young girl’s courage amid some very heartbreaking circumstances. She is a real-life inspiration for me. I will be very blessed if I get the opportunity to work with Casa Hogar in the future and work alongside Brenda and her friends.
The next HandsOn assignment is recruiting volunteers for Special Olympics events in mid-July. Five of us just finished up a planning meeting this morning at a coffee shop to go over recruitment strategies. Our goal is 40 volunteers for the event. Feels good to be back in planning and recruitment stages again!