So… we didn’t plant trees, we just cleaned up and put down some new mulch. Saturday was terrible weather, but I made it out with Million Trees NYC anyhow. It was nothing but misty rain –enough to be annoying, but when I recieved an email thanking me for “braving the weather” it sounded like a challenge. I wanted so badly to roll over in bed but, instead, I threw on my trench coat and did what I said I would do. I’d signed up for this volunteer activity for a couple reasons:
  •  I needed to do something that wasn’t totally self-absorbed. 
       This was my first solo volunteer thing. This was an ultimate testament of working outside of myself & by myself. Everyone there seemed to have showed up with someone. The truth is, every time I sign up for something, I write down East Brook Family because, not only does it sound good, but they’ve shown me tremendous love in a hood that’s not my own. So… cleaning up some trees was sort of my way of giving back. Still, I knew I wasn’t getting the guys up at 10am on a Saturday to shovel mulch lol. I let them live. The most interesting part of volunteering/philanthropy is that everyone has their own preference about what they’d like to do, what they consider valuable and what they find most enjoyable. The way to get people to participate is to do different things. Whoever joins, joins. Whoever doesn’t can wait until something they like comes up. I’ve got soccer with the kids and arts with the kids lined up (I secretly love kids) but this particular Saturday was going to be spent with Mrs. Earth.

  • I like gardening 🙂  

I find this gardening relaxing and quieting… athough, not so much when you’re with a group of people. It was still fun, tho. This isn’t the only volunteer thing I’ve signed up for –I want to do a lot more stuff like this — but it was coming up and was about 5 minutes from where I live. The plan was to wake up in the morning, throw on what I wanted & just go –so that’s what I did. I showed up at about 11a (I be on an alternate schedule, forreal lol) and played my part shoveling. They had already cleaned the debris (we call that “trash” in the hood) out from under the 57 trees, and it was time for mulch when I showed.  My body is still semi-sore, but I needed the workout. The mulch was actually chopped up Christmas trees, which I thought was awesome. I always feel so terrible seeing them out on the sidewalks after the holiday. I still have mine in the back yard 😦

  • The program was only 2 hours long- 10a – 12pm.
         I’m a late sleeper on the weekends, so if I can sleep all day, I will. Duchess will, too. I figured that getting up to do something would get me up period. A lazy person never gets ahead and I’m trying to break myself out of it. I don’t want to sleep in at all. I actually really want to utilize more of my time, but I take advantage of myself without even knowing it. I lose so many hours in my days just by hanging around… tweeting. If I force myself to get up early, I can also get other things done… I’m actually just trying to make use of these 24 hours the best way I can. Meanwhile, I want to show I’m grateful for them.

  • It made me a better person.
         Ok, so that’s super corny, but it did. I love working with people I don’t know, just to show I can. I think it’s a trait of a true leader. You should be able to go into any situation with any group of people –even alone– and get the job done. Not only should you get the job done, but you should do it well. I learned that there are so many people who don’t know how to shovel. I know I can manage because I was raised by a single mother and a brother who treated me like a boy –in Rhode Island. When it snowed, I was out there shoveling, too. When my mom wanted to put a “pond” in the back yard, I was out there shoveling, too. But this is a skill I could help with. Whatever it is you can bring to the table, you put it all out there and let it be used as I can be. As I mentioned, I was one of the only people –if not the only person –who showed up alone. But sometimes, it’s got to be that way. 
     I’ve recently been getting really irked about our society. We brag about where we go and what we have, but no one really gives of themselves. Everybody is a boss, but if you don’t watch out, they’ll lead you down a self-absorbed path with rented shoes on. Others only give back when a tragedy occurs or a holiday comes around and it sounds good enough to put on a flyer. Others will just give a dime, but not their time.

     We should really try to be good people everyday. I’m not saying I have the time to volunteer every day (something’s gotta pay the bills) but volunteering shouldn’t be forced or scheduled, it should be natural and part of our daily lives. We should help one another because it’s right. There are a couple reasons I rock with East Brook Family & the reasons are really just inherent in what these fellas would like to accomplish. At the root of every organization is an idea… but then that idea needs organization. If you ask them what they stand for, all you get is “something positive”, “helping the community” and “brotherhood”. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I only support people I believe in. I don’t know each of their individual life stories from open-to-close, but I know they have good spirits & you’ve got to keep yourself around people who make you a better version of yourself. I’ve been a lone ranger my entire life –as well a female –, so while I am not the “brotherhood” itself, I try to stay positive and help where I can. Not to mention, it takes a woman to put men in order (no disrespect fellas). I like working with them because it’s a balance I’m comfortable with. I think that what men (in my community at least) are missing most now-a-day, is support from their women. On the flip side, what women get the least of is respect from men. I’m proud to say, I believe the fellas work with me as I need them to & I can try a new recipe on Sundays if we’re free. Their mission has encouraged my action. & It’s also a lot easier to help out a community if you’re not from there. In East New York, I’m just a new familiar face. I use it to my advantage.  I hope someone feels the same about my city.

        When it comes to caring for the world, in whatever way you prefer, you’ve got to play your part no matter who is or is not there. Be a leader. Sometimes, you’re not alone, you’re merely representative of whatever group you’re a part of. & when you go out and do things that you enjoy, you’re really not alone. You’re with individuals who enjoy the same. & if you’re doing good what does it matter who is there? You’ve got to get up, get out and help. Maybe our country should encourage that more. Community Service should be what we do because it’s “who we are” instead of form of punishment.

I would encourage you all to participate in your communities in whatever way makes you happiest.
 If we don’t help our own, we can’t expect anyone else to. 
Giving of yourself and your time, for the greater good of the community
 is how a true leader #RunsTheWorld.