September 01, 2009

My Attempt at Making a Difference...Delayed but Determined

One evening, when I was driving home from the store, I was listening to a radio program about volunteering in the schools.

Back in the day, when I was a stay at home mom of my two daughters, I did lots of volunteering - PTA, Brownies, school library, public library. I also taught illiterate adults how to read through our county's Literacy Council.

Once I became a working mother, those activities fell by the wayside. Sure, I was busy with work and kids and housework, but in the corner of my mind, there lingered a little bit of guilt about not giving back.

After The Boy was born, I gave up thoughts of volunteering, even though he was the only child left at home. I was still working; after work, dealing with him was about all I could manage to accomplish.

Now that I am of "a certain age", and terminally unemployed (at least that's how I feel), I decided to pursue one of the volunteer opportunities I heard on the local NPR station that night. Time once again to give back, and time is something I seem to have a lot of.
I phoned the folks at Oasis in St. Louis. Here's what they're all about (from their Web site):

Our mission is to enrich the lives of mature adults by engaging them in lifelong learning
and service programs so they can learn, lead and contribute in their communities.
Our vision is to see that mature adults in communities across the country - at every level of
society - have opportunities and support to pursue vibrant, healthy, productive and meaningful lives.
Through OASIS education centers and partnerships across the country, we seek to make
these opportunities to a broad and diverse audience.

When OASIS refers to 'mature adults', they mean adults over the age of 50 - they are NOT referring to the maturity level of the participants (so I qualify, age-wise).

I haven't found my 'place' here yet, so I am hopeful that through volunteering, I can feel a sense of community and accomplishment that has been missing in my life lately.

I was particularly interested in their
Intergenerational Tutoring Program, where I can go into a local school and help a child increase their reading abilities.

I love kids, I love to read. And the whole literacy thing is right up my alley.

Here's what the program is about (again, from the Oasis Web site):

Through the OASIS Intergenerational Tutoring program, volunteers, school districts and OASIS work together to help children build reading skills, self-esteem and positive attitudes toward learning. Training and materials are provided; no teaching experience is needed.

I was contacted by the Oasis program coordinator Monday, and she said that training for the program in a neighboring school district was beginning Tuesday (lucky that I called, huh?).

So Tuesday morning, I got all spiffed up (meaning I showered and got dressed like I had an actual life), and drove to the school district's training center. I sat in the conference room and waited to be inspired to help a child. And I sat. And sat. And sat.

I returned to the receptionist's desk to tell her that I was still the ONLY PERSON in the room. She made a few phone calls, and told me that the training starts NEXT Tuesday.

So next Tuesday, I will again get spiffed up on schedule, and notebook and sharpened pencils in hand, feel like it is MY first day of school.

I am so looking forward to it.

If you are of a "certain age", and are lucky enough to live in one of the cities served by Oasis, I urge you to give them a look.

Frankly, I think I could use an oasis right about now.


  1. Does this mean you have to take another shower next Tuesday?

    Whoa there, Missy.

  2. I'm glad I read this! Being unemployed for several months now...I feel like I'm not contributing my part. It's kind of depressing and volunteering is so obvious that I SHOULD have thought about it by now but I'm ashamed to say it had not crossed my mind. Thanks for the inspiration!

  3. That sounds like a great program! I think this could be just what the doctor ordered for you! Hope it all goes well!

  4. I wish I could volunteer - do something I am passionate about instead of something that pays the bills. Even though the joblessness seems interminable, enjoy this time until the moment when it all flips back.

  5. Sounds like the perfect opportunity for you!

  6. I admire you for this ... I truly do. I hope you are able to do this in light of recent events in your life.


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