On My Way Home

I got an e-mail yesterday at work from Rich, the director of the Refuge. He is a cop and was on duty for 36 hours straight, so he asked me to stop by the Refuge – which is actually his house – to shut the place down for the night.

Mostly, this involves making sure everyone is in their place, no one is bleeding (which can happen if a feather breaks awkwardly, or the bird plucks its feathers) and cover them up for the night.

I have told Rich that he should ask for help more often. He is worried about asking to much of volunteers. So when he actually asks, I do my best to be responsive. But yesterday, I really wanted to do my homework. And it was my turn to make dinner. So I compromised and told him that I would stop by on my way home from work, which meant it would still be light out when the birds were put to “bed”. He said it was ok – he would be home by the time the sun came up. How does he ever get to sleep?

So I got there about 4:15. The last set of volunteers had managed to load the dishwasher once. Because water dishes are changed out each day, this means it had to be unloaded and reloaded, and clean dishes set up for the next day’s volunteers. I sometimes feel like the only person that cares about handling this properly – our adoptions director has called me the “dish nazi”. But she wasn’t around back in the day when one load of dirty dishes meant that we had to wait around for the dishwasher just to give a bird fresh water. At 9pm, because there were only two of us and the senior volunteer didn’t get there until 6:30 on a good night.

I did the dishes and set up the trays for the next day. I checked the medication chart and saw that the two birds that get evening medications didn’t get the morning dose until 11am. Too early. Then I gave each bird an almond and covered them up. I got home shortly after 5pm, started dinner and got straight to the homework.

Compromise.

Dirty Secret

In addition to selling books in the Library, UBS sells some online at Amazon. I learned a lot about it while writing my marketing project and, in fact, made several recommendations on enhancing that part of the program.

During that time, I started listing books for UBS. There are only about six of us that list books online. It requires researching the value and being comfortable with the web site. There are so many donated books and so few listing volunteers that we have a closet full of boxed up books waiting for us at all times.

So I have the log in i.d. and password, and every day (sometimes more than once a day), I log in just to see if anything has sold. Almost once a day, we have. And today, it was one of mine, Year of the Hangman: George Washington’s Campaign Against the Iroquois.

“Mine”, I say. As if I wrote the book, as opposed of just picking it up from a pile and posting it on a web site. As if the next volunteer wouldn’t have done exactly the same thing, and about the same way, with the same result.

OK – I am just slightly competitive. But it’s all for a good cause, right?

Kiwi the Grey

This is Kiwi the Grey. She likes to fly, shred paper and, as mentioned earlier, talk to the dog. She also enjoys flying over the dog’s head and dropping paper on him. He doesn’t mind. My God, she is spoiled.

I took her back to the Refuge not long ago when I was having some housepainting done. I was afraid that she would be traumatized – smaller cage, much less time out and about, strangers in her space. But no. All of the volunteers were thrilled to have her back and she was Little Miss Popularity. Probably got more almonds in one day than I give her in a week.

The better news is that when she came back home, everything went right to normal. Perhaps that isn’t so good.

The Library

I just started volunteering at my local library in July. Friends of the Glenview Public Library started a Used Book Store (UBS) to raise funds. Books are donated and volunteers staff the space in three hour shifts during all library working hours.

I thought this was the coolest thing I had ever heard. For a volunteer gig, I mean. I get to sit in the library for three hours, reading my own books and taking people’s money once in awhile. Sign me right up.

When I started my first class at BU, Principles of Marketing, I found the final project was to write a complete marketing plan. I chose UBS. Our director was unbelievably supportive and I learned a lot. The project only earned a B, but when I sent it over to the UBS director, she said, “I only have scanned this (will read it thoughtfully this weekend), but already I would give you 100+++ “. This, Ladies and Gentlemen, is why I volunteer.

I wonder if I only managed a “B” because I worried more about being realistic for UBS and less about the actual outline of the assignment? Whatever. I can’t wait to see if any of it can be of practical use.

The Refuge

I don’t even remember when I started volunteering at a Refuge for Saving the Wildlife, but it was several years ago. The Refuge is, among other things, a parrot rescue. I was looking for a volunteer opportunity anyway, and then I had adopted my father’s cockatoo, Hawk.
Yes. Hawk is a stupid name for a cockatoo. I was six years old when he moved in and our favorite TV show was Buck Rogers. Hawk was the name of the birdman.
Cockatoos need an awful lot of attention and my dad was the only person in the house that could handle him. I grew up with this creature and was always afraid of him. Over the years, he was neglected. When I took him on, as an adult, I decided that I had to get over it and make a better life for him. Volunteering at the Refuge taught me how to meet my own parrot’s needs. Eventually, even the cat could put up with him.
Hawk died almost three years ago. He had a heart ailment that I am convinced was aggravated by the poor seed diet we were taught was right for him. I’m sure it didn’t help that my father was a chain smoker.

I kept my weekly gig at the Refuge – it was good therapy. I mulled over adopting for months before I brought home Kiwi, the African Grey. I don’t know why anyone would name a grey parrot “Kiwi”, but when you adopt, you don’t really get to pick the name. Kiwi was five years old at the time.

Kiwi’s favorite playmate is the dog, Shadow. Her favorite pasttime is talking to him. Right this second, she is preening on her playstand and he is lying on the floor underneath, waiting for her to drop him a snack. What the heck do people do that don’t have pets?

Starting School

This past January, as the rest of the world was making New Year’s Resolutions, I considered my goals for 2008. It went something like this:

  1. Complete at least two, preferably four courses toward my degree
  2. Spend one night a week volunteering at the Refuge
  3. Spend at least one night a week volunteering at the Library
  4. Complete 50 Book Challenge
  5. Exercise regularly (blah, blah, blah)

While I am working full time. This is as full as my plate has been since I was an undergrad. Maybe ever. It would make sense to cut back on the volunteering. Am I going to do that? Absolutely not.

I am not married and have no intention of ever being married. I do not plan to have children. I still want to be a well-rounded person. I want to make a contribution to my community. My intent here is to record some of the tales of the Volunteer Sphere, and perhaps help to maintain some perspective as I try to balance each of my roles.