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Turning 50!

April 29, 2012

Welcome to my blog! Over the next year and beyond I will share my random acts of volunteering here. What are random acts of volunteering? Someone somewhere has probably defined it, but for the moment I’m going to say that I think of it as taking advantage of random, informal opportunities to offer myself to people and situations to be of service in whatever way I can be helpful. I’ll explore what this means in more depth in another post.

The Random Acts of Volunteering Project is much more than a blog. The blog is merely a tool to hold myself accountable by sharing my experiences in connecting with others and engaging in random acts of volunteering. I hope others may find something of value in reading about my experiences.

Why am I doing this? It all started as I was thinking of how to mark my 50th year and 50th birthday (in February 2013). I started pondering the number 50 and immediately thought of the 50 states. Turns out I’ve been fortunate enough to travel to all 50 states except Arkansas, Delaware, Mississippi, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Tennessee, and West Virginia (by “travel to” I mean being closer to the ground and more actively involved than just landing in an airport or passing through on a train. By this definition, Rhode Island counts because I’ve driven through in a car, even though I didn’t stop, but Delaware doesn’t, because I’ve only passed through on a train). So I’m also calling this the “50 by 50 Project.”

So I thought I’d try to hit the remaining 8 states over the next year, but I wanted to do something with more meaning. I’ve had a comfortable life and found myself inwardly focused for several years now. I’ve been missing the chance to give something of myself back to others. That’s where I got the idea to do something different, and so I’ve decided to see if I can set up volunteer opportunities for myself along the way. So far I’ve got Delaware and North Dakota planned.

I’m in Delaware tonight. Tomorrow I will work in the morning at St. Stephen’s Pantry, the biggest food pantry in Delaware. This is my first time doing this and I’m really excited about it. My visits are going to be short—typically one night or one weekend. Anyone ever done something like this? Will people trust me? How do I gain people’s trust? How do I make sure that I’m contributing, rather than making more work for people? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Stay tuned….

From → Delaware

  1. Liz Rosaaen permalink

    I love it! However, I think this started before Delaware…if I remember correctly, you were an integral part of our class reunion party last year. It may not have been a pantry kitchen, but you were part of helping make lasting memories for a lot of people, including me. It’s about making connections. And you sir, are very good at that.

    • Thanks for your kind words, Melissa. The difference I see is that I had a lot of personal investment in our class reunion last year–there was much more of an immediate selfish motivation there. Basically, I wanted a role to make it easier for me to interact! I’m selfishly motivated here too, don’t get me wrong, but it has a very different quality. I’m really not looking for anything in these experiences that has such a lasting and direct benefit to me, except for what I can do and learn in the moment (definitely a benefit to me, and perhaps a lasting one too) while I am engaged in showing up and being of service (again, I hope–I’ll let others be the ultimate judge of that). It’s interesting to think about the different motivations that drive us–this is material for another post.

  2. Holly Andrilla permalink

    Very fun idea. I’ll be following along to hear how it goes. Hopefully others will follow your lead in service to others.

  3. Volunteering is such a good way to forge social connections, especially in places where we might not have any. I’ve volunteered when I was trying to figure out to spend my year in Helsinki, and then later, during a summer in Calgary. In both places I found myself at immigrant organizations for 2-3 months. Interestingly, it took a lot of convincing to have these orgs accept my offer to volunteer my time, no strings attached. I wonder what you will discover in this regard. Will people be suspicious? It seems to me that Americans are much more receptive to ‘random acts’ of volunteering because we rely on volunteer services for many of the social services provided by the state in other societies. I am now in the south of France and finding volunteer opps is equally challenging given how much is state-provided. Your blog inspires me to follow up on my initial inquiry at the local Red Cross after I finish teaching this spring. (Wanna read about sociological observations of French life? I am at )

    • Would love to know about your Red Cross experience. And I checked out your blog–very cool. Perhaps you will write about the Red Cross there? I’m now a follower.

  4. lilysea permalink

    What a wonderful idea. You are awesome sauce.

  5. Lorella Palazzo permalink

    What an inspiration, Davis! You challenge me – I, too, will be turning 50 in a couple of months, but so far I’ve looked at this birthday with angst more than anything else. You gave me a completely new perspective. I’ll be thinking of new and better ways to make a positive mark in my world for the next 50 years. Thank you!!

  6. Stephen permalink

    Hi Davis,

    Congratulations Davis. Your acts of kindness are true to your character. Thank you for your giving yourself and your time to those in need and for brightening my day!!!!!

    Ed, who just turned 50 last fall, spent the past several months reviewing applications of, and interviewing, students applying for GSBA Scholarhips. He stated it’s been one of the most rewarding experiences of his life. During the GSBA Scholarship Awards Dinner last Friday night, Ed’s face had a huge smile as he watched the faces of students he helped select called to the stage to receive scholarships. Their stories of struggle and resolve inspired him to want to volunteer even more. I’m so proud of Ed knowing that he has helped positively influence a young person’s life.

  7. Lupita permalink

    Dearest Davis,
    May all your acts of generosity support your spiritual path.
    Whenever you come to my mind, I only can thing in generosity.
    You are one of my role models dear Davis.
    I am so happy and honor to be close to you anywhere I am.
    Thank you for your efforts to make this world a better world.

    With respect and love

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