and I am not ashamed. Though, to be honest, I am a bit self conscious about the second one beside it.
Yesterday was the first of what we call “Neighborhood Engagements,” also known as required volunteer hours. I was assigned to help with an organization called Age in Place. Age in Place is a Christian service for the elderly, and it helps provide home care that the old folks can’t do themselves. This, ultimately, allows the elderly to live at home longer, and reduces the need for retirement homes. All in all, the program assists about 350 local elderly.
I am not a morning person. Let me repeat, I am not a morning person. So when I was told that I needed to leave for the Metro station at 8 — yes, in the morning — I was (just a little) less than enthusiastic about this mandatory service project. I wanted to help with children, or day care, or pet care, or something less…dirty. And something that started at a decent hour. However, being the beautiful soul that I am, I set my alarm, said my prayers, and packed an apple for lunch. This was not enough — not enough sleep, not enough prayer, not enough lunch, and certainly not enough bug spray.
I complain, but it truly was a great experience. Myself and 3 others (and a volunteer coordinator) were dropped off at a Mrs. Simms’ house. Mrs. Simms is an elderly woman who has recently been incited for her overgrown yard. The grass was higher than 12″, the bushes encroached on her neighbors, and there was street litter in the lawn. She had a $500 fine if the yard was not fixed up by the next morning. Needless to say, this little lady could not afford a $500 fine, and so we set to cleaning the place up. We clipped, we cut, we pulled, we tugged, we bagged, we gagged, we sweated, we weeded, we mowed, we towed, and we glowed (with bug spray). We took her overgrown front yard and tamed it. The backyard was a jungle. I’d describe what we did back there, but I used up all my good words two sentences ago. However, our work was a night and day difference.
The second home we went to was equally rewarding, if in a different way. Ms. Korea didn’t need much yard work done, but 7 of us helped clean her modest, 3 story home. Needless to say, we were done pretty quick. However, we sat around her dining room table for about an hour listening to her stories. Ms. Korea is a 92 year old black woman, originally from Nebraska (I think). However, she has been living in DC since 1948. Yes, 1948. She has participated in every March on Washington; she was followed by news crews for Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech; she organized the first colored girl scouts group; her brother single-handedly put out a ship fire caused by 6 kamakazees in Pearl Harbor; she and her husband visited about 16 countries (and she told me how she misses him because she can’t travel without him!); and she organized the DC block club, which is like a big party for each of the communities on a block. She’s quite amazing.
It was a long day in the hot sun and sticky humidity, but I can’t say I didn’t enjoy it. We made a difference, and it was rewarding and encouraging to see organizations like this at work in the community. I volunteer with them again next Tuesday.
Tonight we went on an evening tour of the monuments. They are so regal at night; they are all lit up and there’s no distractions of the city to take away from how exquisite they are. I also went to the Jefferson memorial for the first time; my family and I did not go to it when I was here in 2004. He’s quite an interesting character. I’m excited to learn more about him and his contentious past. I took a bunch of pictures. I will try to upload them over the next few days, and certainly by this weekend. It’s been so long that I (gasp) actually forgot to how to change my ISO. This is an action I do repeatedly repeatedly when I’m snap-happy.
This evening I discovered I’m not as weird as my family thinks. Rachel, a sweet girl across the hall, ALSO has a list of things to change when she’s President. Maybe we’ll get elected two terms after the other so that we can build off of one another’s positive progress for 16 years. Wow. Hehe, ok, I’m just joking about how idealistic that would be. But seriously, being President would suck. Waaaaay too much work and not enough vacation time. Or, as they say here in the “cool” parts of town, not enough vay-cay time.
p.s. Sorry this one isn’t as funny as the last post. I guess I’m just not as hysterical as I usually am.
I am, however, feeling more humble.