(This is a copy of the blog from the Random Acts Blog posted on 6/30/16)
I have been a participant and follower of Random Acts for quite some time. I drive a little yellow Mini Cooper that I regularly turn into a mobile message board working to make little changes mean big things.
I love the stares, honks, and thumbs up that I get when driving around Denver. When I saw the posting for the Dreams to Act trip earlier this year, I knew I needed to make every effort to play with the team – it is the perfect mix of the key pieces of my life.
GIVE: I was raised by a family of giving people and taught to put others before myself. Add to that the fact that my family is slightly off-kilter (in a good way), and Random Acts became the perfect charity for me – one that encourages odd-ball behavior to the benefit of others. Mostly, I have found that through Random Acts I can participate in charitable actions and events without feeling the need to be a big money supporter – it’s the acts, not the money that makes the difference.
BUILD: I also inherited my dad and grandpa’s love for building. My dad taught me early how to swing a hammer, replace old pipes, and safely use power tools. (I’m a better plumber than cook..) As an artist, I work with ordinary items and repurpose them into art and beauty. (Give me a torch and Dremel and the hours fly by.) I love to build things, rig things, and just plain make things up. I fix, I tinker, I create, I design. I have cunning plans and harebrained schemes. I am happiest covered in sawdust, dirt, or dust – making something beautiful or useful out of trash. I have fond memories from childhood of my grandpa looking at the thumb I had just bashed with a hammer and saying (in a Minnesota Swede accent), “Oh that’ll be a good one.”
TEACH: I am a teacher. I started out as a special education teacher, building a program for middle school kids with severe and profound needs. When I left teaching for the corporate world, I continued to volunteer as an autism teacher, a Special Olympics coach, and work with a myriad of other education based programs.
GIFT: My 49th birthday is the 4th of July, When I saw the trip was from the 1st to the 8th of July, I knew the gift I wanted this year was to join the team going to Nicaragua. This became the basis for my fundraising efforts – I asked my friends, family, and strangers, to help me make a birthday gift out of raising funds to build a school – and they did, in a big way. My donations came through Facebook connections to former and current students, high school and college classmates, friends far and wide, and family members I am close to as well as some I haven’t seen (or talked to) in many years. I rebuilt connections and made new ones – an unexpected side effect from working to raise funds.
All this brings us to this week – getting ready to head to Nicaragua and tie all these elements together. I am excited, scared, thrilled, and hesitant. I am an outgoing and vibrant person, but also reluctant to meet new people. This is a big risk for me – putting myself out there with people I don’t know. I have a terrible memory for names and am always afraid of hurting someone’s feelings. But this charity is one that embraces everyone with open arms regardless of their shortcomings. The weird and wild find a home with the geek and eccentric. I know I will find family and friends among those that are currently strangers. I trust and believe that this will be one of the best birthday gifts I could have received… ever.