Monday, February 28, 2011

Walking the Last Lap

Leah Miller, 5, gets her face painted during
the Walk for Warmth.

It's the last day of February. I'm nearly done with my project and yet I feel that instead of wrapping up my journey with gusto, I am walking the last lap.

Last week, I didn't volunteer. While there have been weeks when I have doubled up, I am disappointed in myself -- again. Sometimes, it is hard to find the variety of volunteer opportunities this part of year. At least, that is the case for any outdoor events. And last week, family priorities trumped my volunteering.

I tried to make up for it this week, by quite literally walking. I walked laps for Oakland Livingston Human Service Agency in the Walk for Warmth fundraiser. Money from the event goes to provide emergency heating assistance. When news leaked out Friday that OLHSA might be losing a lot of federal funding, I knew that I needed to highlight all the good OLHSA does.

The first time I visited OLHSA was when I wrote a story about the head start children who were getting Christmas toys by a local Optimist club. Many of these children would not have had toys if it hadn't been for this organization, and it was difficult to not feel touched by the childrens' happy faces.

So, I called up Adela Piper, the head of PR, and asked if I could come help. On Sunday morning, not feeling super great, I grabbed a backpack and filled it with my notepad, camera and water, and headed over to The Palace of Auburn Hills. There were many volunteers ready to help. Genisys Credit Union supplied about one-hundred-fifty volunteers for the event. OLHSA employees added another fifty.

Because OLHSA had it pretty much organized, I decided that I would have to make up my time with money, so I threw in some coin and decided that I would walk.

Before doing so, though, I interviewed volunteers and walkers. Joe Wozniak stuck out, making the lead for the news story that I 'volunteered' for work. Within six months, he had lost his wife, his job, and his home. He went to OLHSA for help. And while he is still trying to turn his life around, he makes a point of showing up for this event, and remains optimistic.

I also was able to chat with Eileen Hawthorne and her daughter Megan. Eileen works one day a week at OLHSA. She is one of those people who just sends out positive vibes. She reminded me of my husband's aunt, Carol. Whenever around Carol, people seem to feel at ease, and just talk. Both women have this charisma, and they also help people when they can. It was energizing to meet someone else like this, and it made walking about three miles go a bit faster.

To donate to OLHSA, visit

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