The Challenge

This idea is wholly that of Jen's from her oh-so-inspiring blog, "A Year of Living Charitably". When I read her blog, I felt challenged to see if I could do what she and her family are doing this year, extending some charitable act each and every day.

Won't you join us?

PS - I'm not a daily blogger, so if you want daily, definitely read Jen's blog. This blog is mostly for my own amusement. If you are also amused, please check back every once in a while.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Take Pictures

As a fund raising activity, our teams decided to run a photo booth at Feile Samhain. Several other parents created an awesome backdrop and one of the other parents and I took photos. The photo to the left is one I took of our TCRGs and the two Feis musicians (in the center).

WHAT I DID: Use my photography skills (and equipment) to take fun photos of the dancers.

HOW LONG: One day - and I was there anyway.

IMPACT: Well, the one group who actually came to get their photo taken LOVED their photo! But we were too tucked into a corner to really make a difference.

WORTH IT? I think we can figure out a way to make it more worthwhile for next year, so we learned a lot!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Create Feis Program

I volunteered to create the Feis program for Feile Samhain this year. Of course, all the essential info was late in getting to me - like, we were supposed to get the finished product to the printer on Sunday and I didn't get the raw data files until Monday! But I got it done, and even received compliments on the finished product.

WHAT I DID: Take the information provided and create a 32 page program. I also created a lot of the dance ads for people - in the past they were to provide camera ready artwork, but I love designing the ads, so that was a special bonus for me and for them!

HOW LONG: Oh boy, I didn't keep track, and I'm glad I didn't. It took about two weeks, and some of that time was very intense - staying up until 2am several nights in a row to get it to the printer within the turn around time.

IMPACT: Well, I saw lots of people using it at the Feis, but in addition to that - I got to see the reaction of one of the dancers when she saw the ad her mom placed - she was so thrilled and I had designed it. So fun!

WORTH IT: I so appreciate the Feis chairperson, and like to do what I can to help her. It was a very big way that I could help her and help our dance school, so yes, it was worth it. We also took the additional step of binding it ourselves (340 copies!), saving our TCRGs almost $1,000!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Heal the Pain

Steve's mom, Berta, fell and shattered her kneecap three weeks ago. Now we are at our family reunion in a house that is so far from handicap accessible as to be almost impossible, and Berta is in a wheelchair with strict instructions to not put any weight on her leg. To get into the house you have to climb a full set of stairs. Then to get to any bedroom, you have to either climb up or down a full set of stairs.

In an effort to not be a bother, Berta was climbing up the stairs to bed on her bum, scooting up with her arms. It was late and she was very tired from a long day, and seems to have pulled a muscle in her back from the climb.

I used what little I know of Healing Touch to help ease the pain. I concentrated on sending as much healing energy as I could connect with through my hands and to the area.

I worked on her for about four hours over the course of a couple of days.

I was able to help her get her pain from an eight out of ten to a two out of ten and allowed her to get some much needed rest.

Definitely! Not only was I able to really help my mother-in-law, but I learned a lot about my ability to heal. And it had the side benefit of easing our relationship a bit.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Site Administrator

My life coach has been a little frustrated (really just a little) because no one is really using her website. We had a committee meeting via conference call and I mentioned that the problem might be that the site isn't interactive - that it is too static. I thought a ning social networking site might be what she is looking for and offered to set it up for her. I've been having such a great time setting this up! I just love playing on the computer and figuring stuff out (unless what I'm trying to do is fix bugs, then I'm not so happy!). (I had to host the above picture somewhere - it is her heart portrait that we had commissioned last summer, so I'm sticking it here to add some color and to be able to link to it.)

WHAT I DID: Set up a social networking site for my life coach and fellow GUTS sisters.

HOW LONG: About a day.

IMPACT: Too soon to tell, but I'm really hoping that the site will help people connect, support each other and grow in their development.

WORTH IT? Well, I've had so much fun setting it up that all the rest of it is gravy - so yes, totally worth it. AND my coach is so happy and grateful.

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Giant GS Cookie Project

Well, our girls sold their last box yesterday and then we gathered at our house for lasagne and Thin Mint ice cream.

Where have I been? Since Feb. 18, I have been helping four girls (then five, as we added a girl to our troop during and because of the sale) to try to sell 8000 boxes of cookies! They got to 6600 boxes, shy of their huge goal, but a huge success none the less. Of those, we have 427 boxes to deliver to our local food bank. I'm excited to think of the happy surprise those families will have when they go to pick up a box from the food bank and have a box of Mints or Samoas to enjoy!

WHAT I DID: counted, moved, recounted and moved again more boxes of cookies than I'd even like to think about! Counted stacks of money and reconciled everything every day. Stood for at least 150 hours at many booth sales - smiling and saying hello the entire time. Gave pep talks after the hard, slow days, and celebrated after the amazing days when they sold more than I thought possible. I also answered questions from other troop cookie managers and helped Steve with his part of supplying all the troops with cookies as much as I could.

HOW LONG: Ha!!! Probably about 250 hours.

There are many facets to this.
The impact on the girls - them knowing that they have such strong support for their goals, that they can push through colds and flu, tiredness, strange strangers, getting no after no after no to reach all those yeses, proving that they can do what most people didn't think they could do... They also earned enough money to go on a trip to Savannah this coming fall and do many other things they want to do.
The impact on our community - the girls would greet everyone who entered whatever store they were in front of with a warm welcome and let them go on their way with a sincere "Have a great day!" Most people left with a smile, whether they bought a box or not. They brightened up many a moment. The good will continues to spread as they deliver their boxes to the food bank to brighten up those boxes of rice, beans and peanut butter.
The impact on our GS Service Unit - helping make the sale easier for all the other troops allowed those girls to reach their goals and earn the money they need for their activities.
The impact on our GS Council - the cookie sale helps to support our local GS Council activities - summer camp, programs for troops, programs for underserved girls, etc.

WORTH IT? Yes - in so many ways. And how else can a small group of 11 and 12 year olds earn almost $9,000 in 25 days?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A Birthday Project

For my 45th birthday I decided to do a service project. I contacted service organizations in Portland, but they had all the volunteers they needed so I came up with my own project. The project is by no means finished, but the great thing about this project is that the doing of it has as much, if not more, impact as the finished product.

People need to tell their stories. They need to have someone listen to their stories and have them validated.


I invited two of my closest friends to spend the day with me in Portland. I borrowed my daughter's video camera and we went around town asking women to tell us their stories of how they know they are strong, or what makes them stronger.

Probably only and hour or two so far - we were also having a great time talking with each other, enjoying good food, and celebrating.

The women just lit up when they understood what we were asking of them. As they told their stories they all became more confident and stronger right before our eyes.


YES! This was an instant gratification project. We were able to see the impact we were having on the women right away. After listening to their stories, it felt like we had friends all over town - women smiling and waving at us when they saw us again. And I can't wait to go do it again - to reach out even more to those who are mostly invisible.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Learning to be a Webmaster

The website for our Irish dance school has been woefully out of date. The instructors/owners are so very busy running so many locations, keeping up with two very small children, and working with all the teams, and the website is just more than they have time to keep up.

Volunteered to take over the website upkeep.

A few hours today while I was sitting around waiting during Bekka's 6 hours of class, with more to come.

I'm hoping that, with an up to date website the school will grow and the families already in the school will have easier access to current information (it can get really frustrating, especially when you are new to Irish Dance, to try to figure it all out).


YES!! Not only am I providing a great service for the instructors/owners and the other school families (and potential families), I am learning to create and manage a website (something I've never done before).

Friday, January 30, 2009

Helping Connect

For the past year, I've been helping organize an group called Homeschool Central at the Boys & Girls Club of Corvallis. We opened in September and there are still lots of people who don't really know the other families, so we decided that a photo directory would be a good idea.

I set up my camera and my computer to start compiling the directory today.

Off and on for about two hours today. I'll do that for a couple more times and then put the actual directory together, which will probably take no more than two additional hours.

You know when you've been attending something for a while with the same people week to week and you either forget someone's name or just never knew it, but you've been talking with them weekly for months and are too embarrassed to ask? Or your kids have been attending an activity for months and want to invite that kid with the blonde hair to her birthday party (you know, the blonde girl!), but you aren't inviting everyone and don't want to deliver invites at the activity. Anyway, these are just two situations that the photo directory will relieve.


The whole reason we've been working on Homeschool Central is to help the diversity of homeschoolers in Corvallis connect. This will be one more tool to connect us all.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Hope Kit Delivery

Almost a year ago our Girl Scout troop visited Medical Teams International in Tigard, OR to learn about what this organization does and how they help change the world. We toured the "Real Life" exhibit which walks visitors through the eight regions of the world MTI works their magic. The exhibit is emotional, impactful, and stirring without being graphic - it is very well done.

This visit inspired the girls to organize others to put together Hope Kits. They put together a presentation and a flier, then presented their project to our area Girl Scout leaders as well as a couple of service organizations. They collected and repackaged kits, then figured out what they were missing and purchased the rest.

Complete our kits and deliver them to Tigard.

4 hours

More than 100 families in other parts of the world will have soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes and combs for about a year.

Yes. And it feels so good to be doing something that we will never see the results of.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Cookie Orders

Today the troops' initial cookie orders were due. I reviewed each and every order to make sure none of the troops are getting stuck with cookies they won't be able to sell. I also reviewed all the girls' orders looking for speculation orders that didn't look right and contacted the troops that needed help. (This is completely not in the job description!)

Probably about three hours.

At least ten of the 27 troops should have a more pleasant, successful sale because they will have a mix of cookies that they can sell - and won't be stuck with two cases of Sugar Free Chocolate Chip when they've sold out of everything else.

We'll see at the end of the sale. So far the feedback has been very positive.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Parenting Workshop

Steffi is participating in the Coming of Age program at the UU Fellowship and I've volunteered to lead parenting workshops during some of the kids' sessions.


Planning and leading Parenting Workshops for parents of 12-14 year olds.

An hour and a half for each of 6 sessions plus planning time of probably three hours per session.

Hopefully I'll be able to help ten families enjoy the teen years with their kids - working with their kids rather than battling them.

We'll see, but the first session went really well.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Cookie Mania

Okay, I'm a very involved community volunteer. One of the things I'm doing right now is the job of Service Unit Cookie Manager - facilitating 200 Girl Scouts in their annual cookie sale.

Training, sharing information, helping troop cookie managers make sense of the cookie sale.

Hours and hours. Today alone I spent at least an hour reporting problems, emailing answers, responding to troops, responding to our council employee. And today was a light day...

I'm determined to make the sale easier for the troops this year. Our council has changed significantly this year, and a lot of the cookie stuff is totally new and some of that isn't working very well yet.

I think so. I'm good at the job, I care about doing a good job, and I'm very detail oriented. Even though some of the troops are frustrated with all the changes, I know I'm buffering a lot of the potential problems from them. Some of them might have given up by now, and then the girls in their troops wouldn't have the support they need.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Piano Sitting!

Not often does charitable action give such a great tangible reward, but today we really hit the jackpot!

Our piano teacher called the other day. Her second cousin has just a couple of days to move and get their house ready to sell. They have an older baby grand piano that they need a home for ASAP! So we offered to house it for them for as long as they need it housed.

About an hour in calls, emails, and delivery/set up.

They were able to take care of something important - the piano - without a lot of hassle.

Heck ya! We are actually looking to buy an upright piano, but haven't been able to find one we want to buy. Both girls spent some time playing today, and Bekka even had a friend come over to play for a while this afternoon. Beautiful music filling the living room - definitely worth it!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Baby Do You Need a Ride?

I spent a large chunk of time today in meetings - the first of which ran a little long. This meant that our host was in danger of missing her bus.

Noticing that she was running out of time, I offered her a ride to campus so she wouldn't feel so rushed.

No more than 5 minutes out of my way, if that.

We were able to wrap up our meeting without the stress of running over time, even though we had.

Not only did I help a friend, I got company on the ride home, so yes, totally worth it.

I was also a recipient of a small charitable act this morning - I was running late to my first meeting of the day and hadn't eaten, so I stopped by the bakery. The man in front of me seemed to sense that I was in a hurry (I did have my money out before I even got to the counter), and invited me to go ahead of him. This probably saved me five minutes, so I was very grateful for this small act of kindness.

Painting Gone Wild

Our friends just bought a house in the next town. It was built in something like 1914 and it's really great. However, the living room is mint green, really mint green. The walls, the trim, the custom mini blinds, the door, the stairs. Really! Well, it was until tonight...

Gather the troops (the GS troop, that is) and paint, paint, paint! We obliterated all the mint green (except the blinds, that's a different kind of project all together).

About 2 hours with seven of us working (well, about half an hour with all of us working, and 2 hours to finish the edges)

Our friend is so happy with her new paint, and the room looks so much better. All that's left is the white trim painting, that she'll be able to whip out tomorrow. She is excited about furnishing her new living room, and we saved her many, many hours of painting alone.

Absolutely - we all had a blast - the kids played hide 'n go seek after they finished the big walls and we got her project done in record time.

Thinking Back to All the Little Things Already Done

So, I just learned about this today, and already half a month has gone by. So to start off, I'd like to just reflect on some of the charitable acts I've done so far this year. This post is really just for my own amusement - it is not particularly well written or interesting...

Wow, it's hard to remember. I was wanting to put them in some sort of order, but they just aren't coming to me that way.

Last Saturday I made sure to bring a tool with me to the dance studio to fix the door handle that has been broken for well over a month. Someone had replaced the "use other door" sign that morning, so I remembered right away to fix it. It was a little funny when the woman who had replaced the sign noticed it missing and called out in mild frustration - but she was so thankful when I told her it was no longer broken.

The week before that while I was getting a cart at Trader Joe's I noticed a man coming up to get a cart holding a toddler - so I got the cart turned around in the tight cart storage space and gave it to him. He seemed grateful to have one less thing to juggle.

A week ago Monday night I held another cookie training for all the troop cookie managers who hadn't been able to make it to one of the four trainings I had offered in December. I want to make this cookie sale the easiest so to date. Our Service Unit hasn't held cookie trainings in the past, but there is a lot of new information this year with a lot of changes, so I'm trying to be very flexible and thorough.

Holding doors open for people is just a way of life, but going out of our way to hold the door for someone juggling children and strollers and all the rest of it is something I really try to make a point of doing. Last Friday at the Boys & Girls Club a mom was approaching a nearby door pushing a stroller, holding the baby, and trying to keep hold of the toddler. I ran ahead to the door to get it for them. Not having children close in age, I can't even imagine trying to juggle all that and a heavy door!

I know there is so much more, but I'm just not coming up with them...

Challenge Extended

I'm so inspired by A Year of Living Charitably!

Here is the email that brought this project to my attention:
We're still in L.A. Visiting for the week, exploring museums and looking for ways to help the world (or at least a neighbor) while enjoying our stay. Today we wrapped up a pantry-cleaning project here at Mom's house by taking the gleanings to The Los Angeles Food Bank. The place is HUGE! But we learned that no matter how big the charity, and no matter how small our donation, it all helps!

This was part of our 2009 project -? a year of charitable deeds. I'm reporting on our projects, in hopes of encouraging others to get involved in their communities and to help keep us on track, on a dedicated blog - You can subscribe to the blog for free (directions are on the blog) or lurk. We'd love for you to take part in our family project.

If you like the idea, please spread the word. :)


This is such a powerful idea that I decided to take the idea as a challenge for myself, to see if I could live more charitably. I'm not as disciplined of a writer as Jenni, but I'd like to try to report here every day.

Challenge Extended - Challenge Accepted.

Won't you join us?