Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Recapping the Action

Goodbyes, blood and music topped off my volunteering for last week.

Because I more than fulfilled my quota for the first week in January — tutoring ESL, donating blood, and chaperoning a high school benefit — I gave myself a break this week. It was needed, because I still have to schedule volunteer gigs now that tutoring ESL is over with.

Quick note: When donating blood, make sure to drink plenty of water and eat well. I thought I had done this, but after passing out at my desk in front of concerned co-workers, I realized I obviously did not prepare myself. 

Yes, I embarrassed myself in front of the people I work with. At one point, ripping off my sweater, and yelling, "Oh My God! Look how much I'm sweating!"

Candy bars and juice were summoned, and I was again, reminded of how lucky I am to work with such kind people. My wish in sharing this is not to deter people from donating blood, though. While I still don't enjoy donating, and passing out can happen, I think it's incredibly important to do. Because I am healthy enough,  I will continue to donate — but maybe not in between work at The Oakland Press.

Fully recovered, Friday night proved to be the real gem of the week. The Concert for Hope event was coordinated completely by students and left me thoroughly impressed. Not only did I get to listen to some sweet bands — The Cats and the Fiddler blew my bluegrass-loving mind — but I got to nosh on some barbecue, shoot hoops, and play video games all for a cause to raise funds for a local family dealing with medical bills.

As a chaperon, I mostly milled around and talked to kids. But these students were outstanding, and I realized that sometimes teenagers get a bad rap. These students, past and present, not only coordinated local bands to perform throughout the evening, they also had a silent auction, gym time, board games, video games and food. Giving up their weekend, they hosted the event both Friday and Saturday. Teachers and staff also gave their time. Rob put in a solid seven hours after teaching all day.

For me, I felt like I had entered a time warp. After shooting and missing about twenty free throws in a row, I sat down to watch Rob play one-on-one with a much shorter student.

"Kick his ass!" I encouraged the kid.

OK, I know that swearing probably makes me the worst chaperon ever, but Rob and I are incredibly competitive, and I wanted this half-pint to cream him and my inner sailor took over. The student didn't win, but he was a good sport and he gave Rob a good workout!

While watching the game, a girl plopped down next to me.

"Hi, what grade are you in?"

(Laughter) "Ha, I'm 26, and I'm married to your teacher," I said.

Yep, you thought that was me asking what grade she was in, right? I told you, my chubby cheeks do nothing for me. I'm also very short."

After a few more laughs, I learned that this young woman wants to be a pediatrician. I played reporter and asked her a ton of questions. She talked about the drama of high school. I was afraid to tell her that some people bring drama throughout life. I doubted she would be one of them. I was inspired by her self-assured manner. I was not that together as a junior in high school.

It wasn't all playing around though. Rob and I also visited the "Hope Room." It was hard not getting emotional in the twinkle-light lit room. Posters and markers were available for people to write words of encouragement, and also to write the names of those who have died from cancer, and those who are fighting it.

When Rob wrote his father's name down, "Mark Hamilton, sarcoma, remission." I almost had to leave the room.

This event was to raise funds and hope. It did both. Personally, it rejuvenated my hope and faith in teenagers, who are so often portrayed negatively.

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