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The Quirks and Perks of Being a Volunteer

What a whirlwind the past two months have been as I have started this new adventure in Sacramento! Although I haven’t been here long I’ve learned a thing or two. In fact, this past weekend I had the chance to reflect, with my community and the San Francisco community, on what I’ve experienced and learned so far. We got so excited that we actually began to put together a list of how you know you’re living the volunteer life right, and so without further ado here’s the seven ways:

  1. The simplest things entertain you for hours
  2. You get excited when expired food still tastes good
  3. You haven’t driven in so long, you’re worried you might have forgotten how to operate a vehicle
  4. You never say no to a free meal 
  5. You find the coolest things at the Goodwill
  6. Coupons define what you do and where you eat
  7. You’ve hunted down every free event in your city

To some, this list might seem a bit off point from what you’d expect any of us to gain from this year, but I would say there are two reasons why this list absolutely encompasses the beauty of a volunteer year. First, it’s still October so this is only how far we’ve gotten in about two months, which isn’t too bad if you ask me! Secondly, these things on the surface appear menial, but have actually taught us, or at least me, something much deeper about community and simplicity.

While I haven’t driven since August, and I’m sure the next time I get behind the wheel it might be a bit awkward, I’ve had the chance to learn a whole new city on bike or on foot. This provides me the chance to stop and have a conversation with someone new, check out a local business, and have a better understanding of how “the grid” works. Although I mostly attend free or discounted events, it’s been an opportunity to break out on my own or with my community and try out a new restaurant, see a local play, or learn a little history of Sacramento and the people who call this beautiful city home. As for never saying no to a free meal this has undoubtedly brought me closer to a variety of people. Be it the residents that live at my work site, Quinn Cottages, the local activists who support ending homelessness, or the Jesuit Volunteers who live just across town, breaking bread together means having time to deepen budding relationships and is a reminder of our interconnectedness as a community. In essence these little acts have helped me cultivate a love for the city and the people who live in it that otherwise might go unnoticed. That’s what this year is about, slowing down and being exactly where your feet are and engaging the people you meet along the way.

Amy Fox: Quinn Cottages, Sacramento, CA

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