Tuesday, April 12, 2011

National Volunteer Week

The kids listening to music at OLHSA.

The lovely singers at
the OPC.

It seems fitting that I will end my volunteer/blog exploration during National Volunteer Week.

Over the last two weeks, I have volunteered at OLHSA, reading books to preschoolers and later hanging out with seniors at the OPC in Rochester. This weekend, I will end my stint during a clean-up in Pontiac.

It was a sad day at OLHSA, as nineteen employees worked their last day because budget of cuts in funding. In this climate, it seems unlikely that OLHSA will regain funding, but here's hoping.

Studies have shown that early education can make a huge difference in childrens' performance. When I walked into the classroom, children were playing at an indoor sandbox. Corralling these tykes was no easy feat, but they were soon seated on a circular rug while I read "The Berenstain Bears Learn About Strangers."

These kids were adorable. I quizzed them in between reading and shouts of "My favorite color is pink" about strangers. I wasn't the lone volunteer though, members of the Bloomfield Optimist Club come every month to read and sing music to the boisterous children.

Last Friday, I headed out to the OPC for the Gangsters and Hot Babes Millionaire Party fundraiser. The work day had been disasterous with only a handful of staff in the office. It was hectic, and I was not really in the mood to volunteer.

The OPC, as always, lifted my mood. I arrived in jeans and a sweater, and quickly changed into a dress and topped that off with a red feather boa.

A foursome of young ladies sang songs from the Roaring '20s. Seniors wore feather headbands, flapper dress and were accompanied by dates in suits and silk ties. 

I stepped in by greeting seniors and then borrowed from my past, serving dinners and clearing plates. The OPC goes above and beyond in creating authentic ambiance. The aforementioned singers strolled from room to room, performing in a parlor style.

A band played in the auditorium while seniors sashayed along the wooden dance floor. And the roulette and blackjack tables were swarming with gamblers. I wove in between them all with refreshments. 

Of course, I got my dance with Ralph, and even scored a story scoop. The people at the OPC are incredibly kind, and are a prize within the community. By the time I left, my darkened mood had lifted. This is either the magic of the OPC, volunteering or a combination of both.

I'm looking forward to this weekend — my last documented volunteer gig.

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