Saturday, January 16, 2016

365 True Things: 293/Volunteering

I have done four volunteer jobs in my life.

The first was as a guide at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, for fifteen years. I was on a great shift and made some good friends, a couple of whom I see still, regularly, twenty-five years later. I learned so much about my new watery backyard in the professional class the Aquarium conducts every year for its new guides. Knowing the land is relatively easy, but not so much the ocean. I am forever grateful to the Aquarium for filling a whole well of information and connection on that front.

For a short time, around the end of my Aquarium days, I spent a year or so doing literacy tutoring at the local library. I worked with a young Vietnamese woman who wanted to speak better (her co-workers couldn't understand her; I could understand why: she swallowed most of her words), and a thirties-ish man who had been in and out of trouble, didn't finish (by a long shot) school, and now wanted to learn how to read. Victor. I enjoyed working with him. Well, with both of them, but he . . . I got a sense of him wanting to make something better of his life. But eventually he moved back to Washington State—precisely where he'd been in quite a bit of trouble. I wonder if he managed to avoid the hole this time around. I hope so.

And then of course there's been Search & Rescue, which I've written about several times here (like, here).

Lately—what with the knee (see yesterday's post), for example —I've been wondering if I shouldn't be easing out of SAR. It's a younger person's game. But this year will be my ten-year anniversary, and I'd at least like to reach that milestone. I'm silently gearing up to respond more diligently, if and when we get any calls (it's been freakishly quiet these past few months).

My fourth volunteer gig has been as a ranger in the Ventana Wilderness, working with the US Forest Service. Just the other day I went out with three of my fellow rangers to remove an "exploded oak" (as it was described, quite accurately, by a visitor to the area) from a trail. It was fun! And the clear trail at the end of the day was a beautiful sight to behold. We also do Leave No Trace education, fire ring removal, and so forth. It gets me out hiking and enjoying the beautiful land I live in. 

So: I'm starting to think ahead to a quieter sort of volunteerism, to take the place of SAR at the very least. Maybe back to literacy tutoring. The ability to read is so important. Or . . . something else? This is something I need to ponder. But for now, I've got the Ventana. And one more year hanging on to SAR.

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