Wednesday, March 29, 2006

The Joy of Non-Profits

Someone, who shall not be named, once asked me why in the world I would want to work in a non-profit because you always have to beg for money. I now have experience working with non-profits and realize yes, this is the case. You are always struggling for money, which you get from several different sources. These past few days I have done a lot of asking for money. On Saturday I was one of those people who stands in the middle of a street (on a median) with a little bucket collecting money. I stood in the cold in the middle of a busy street for 4 hours with a bright orange vest, shaking my little bucket in hopes that someone would roll down their window to contribute a dollar or some change. And several people did. I actually got over $100 by the end (and I was sharing the median with two other people!) I found this rather impressive. Oh, and I should mention this was for the Humane Society. If you are wondering why in the world a girl who is allergic to all animals is standing in the cold for hours collecting money for them...well it's because my friend asked me to. In addition to working with me at Americana, she also works at the Humane Society and needed volunteers to do this. So I did it. And it was actually pretty fun. I almost got hit by a few cars, but all in all it was a good time. My friend told me that last year they made $30,000 in one day doing this! (they had people stationed all over Louisville). I don't know the total for this year yet. Do you think I could fund my next trip to Europe/Asia/Africa this way? That would be awesome! And back to asking for money for real causes - the past couple days I have had to make several phone calls to places I looked up in the yellow pages about making donations to our new community garden. Oh yeah, I don't think I mentioned on here yet that Americana Community Center will soon have a community garden, which I think is exciting. My housemates and I will have a plot. I have never gardened before, so it will be a learning experience for me. It opens this Saturday! But we have a lot that still needs done, hence all the phone calls. I have decided asking for money is not all that bad, and it can be fun coming up with creative ways to raise money. It's a good thing I think this way since it is essential for the career path I am choosing. I might change my mind in a few years :)

What else...things are still good here. I really do love where I work and think it is a great place. Every day is different. You never know what is going to happen. This past weekend was good, but not much to report except next time you see someone standing on the street, consider giving them a dollar! Now that I've been there, I think I will. I saw another good play Saturday night at Actors Theatre as part of the Humana Festival that is going on there. For a month they are premiering new American plays. I saw one called "Natural Selection" which was rather amusing. One of the characters was very into blogging which made me laugh. Then I played pool for a couple hours which is apparently the new thing to do around here. I have never really played before so I'm pretty bad, but I think my skills are slightly improving after a couple times. Sunday I did therapy with Cameron for the first time all by myself for two hours. It went pretty well, although I need to check a book out on sign language and try to learn some more. And this little boy was definitely testing me since I'm new. But when I think of some of the things I have dealt with in the past, it was a breeze! However, it is still rather challenging.

Ok I need to go to bed. But one more thing. I have recently become addicted to playing Pacman. So if you would like to be addicted too, here you go: I don't know what it is about this game. I remember playing it when I was little at my friend's house and I thought it was so cool. This was before we had a computer at my house. And I rediscovered it a couple weeks ago when we added some new games to our kid's computer lab at work, including this one. All the kids love it too. This game is timeless!

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

St. Patty's Day, more visitors, & future plans

This is a picture of my housemate Keith & I on St. Patrick's Day. This is before I decided to put green dye in my beer which stained my lips green. Notice my nice hat which I received in London last year. Great memories! I was chased by a homeless man wearing this hat. Remember that Reba?? Anyways, we had some people over for a party at our place on St. Patty's Day. My housemate Katie went all out and made corn beef, potatoes, cabbage, and other Irish food. It was a good time. I left the party a little early with some of my coworkers/friends to go out dancing which is always a fun time.

On Saturday afternoon my parents & sister arrived. It was nice to have them here. They hadn't been here since they moved me in back in August, and they didn't see any of the city then. They stayed until Tuesday morning (my parents in a hotel, Denise on my floor - it is her spring break). It was a nice visit and it was fun to show them around and see what my life is like here. Unfortunately my dad wasn't feeling too well. My mom and sister came to the after-school program on Monday. My mom was busy the whole time helping kids with homework and Denise helped some too. They both enjoyed it and I was glad they got a taste of what I deal with every day! And I think it was good for Denise to interact with kids not as privileged as she is! Of course all the boys loved her. I must say I am still a little uncomfortable hearing boys say my little sister is hot. I don't like it at all! She's only 12!! Several of them wanted to ask her out and this one boy has been bugging me for her phone number the past couple of days. Craziness. Yeah, I don't want to repeat some of the comments I have heard regarding my baby sister!

I got my acceptance letter for the Master of Social Work Program at Ohio State yesterday. I haven't heard back from the Univeristy of Louisville yet, but I think it is safe to assume I am accepted there as well. Ohio State says I have to decide by May 1 and I am assuming U of L will be similar. So looks like I have a little over a month to decide. I don't know anything about financial aid or scholarships yet, which could possibly influence my decision. But as of now I would say I am most likely staying here. I would have someone to live with (Alisa) and I really do love where I work and want to be involved there for more than just a year. Of course moving back to Columbus and being by my family and friends again wouldn't be horrible either. Ah, decisions, decisions....

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Oh have I got a story for you!

I decided this story was good enough for a separate post. So when I arrived home last night around 2:30 a.m. there were three cop cars and an ambulance in the parking lot of the church next door, along with a few extra cars in our parking lot as always. Someone was being put in the ambulance on a stretcher. I didn't think much of it as I am used to seeing odd things in our parking lot. Plus I was very tired and just wanted to go to bed. Before I fell asleep I heard our phone ring and then a knock on my door, but decided to ignore it because I just wanted to sleep. Well I wish I would have gotten up to see the excitement, but only Alisa got to witness it. Around 3:30 a.m. as she was lying in bed, she heard some noises from outside her window (which faces the parking lot). She decided to look since her car window was smashed in last week (that's right, again) and therefore is a little paranoid. She saw a woman in a white tube top dress carrying a red can of gasoline. She put it in her car and drove away. And right then, an SUV sitting in our parking lot BURST INTO FLAMES! That's right, a car was lit on fire in our parking lot last night. Luckily Alisa witnessed it and called 911 and the fire was put out. After she spoke with the cops last night and the fire marshall today, I think we have figured out what happened. First someone slashed the tires of the SUV, for a reason unknown to us. The owner of the SUV then beat up the person who did this (this is the fight I saw the end of in the parking lot next door). So the wife of the person who was beat up returned to the SUV and lit it on fire! I think I got that right. The beat up SUV was still there this morning. The cops were shocked that we do not have security cameras in our parking lot. It is something that is really needed. The community center could really use them. Edgardo had me look into getting cameras after two of our computers were stolen, a few months ago but what it came down to is we do not have enough money (the joy of nonprofits!) So nothing was ever done. I think I will bring up this issue again in tomorrow's staff meeting. We need to find the money somewhere. The warmer weather has brought the return of the Bosnians (the large group of people with their loud cars and illegal activity that like to hang out in our parking lot at all hours). And I don't think I ever mentioned that a pair of tennis shoes were hung from our telephone wires again about a month ago. So I had the joy of calling LG&E again to get them removed. Since it has happened twice, I think it must mean something. (gang activity, place to get drugs, etc.) Well, despite all this, I still love our neighborhood!

The Return of Chad and Joel

That's right, Chad and Joel made another trip to Louisville this weekend for a visit. So for all my friends who have yet to make it, they have been here twice! I think my housemates enjoy their company. In the picture of all of us, I am holding up a picture of Reba again, but it's a little hard to see. (we miss you!) So obviously I had an enjoyable weekend! They arrived Friday afternoon, right as the kids start arriving for the after-school program (remember I live in the same building I work). I went out to greet them in the parking lot (with a hug) and then let them into my apartment. I guess a couple of kids saw, so the new rumor going around is that Ms. Maria has two boyfriends, and Said added that I also cheat on them in front of eachother. After a mostly enjoyable "Fun Friday" at work, the weekend began. Friday was Katie's birthday, so we all went out to dinner at a Thai restaurant. It was delicious! Saturday Chad, Joel, and I went to dinner at the Vietnam Kitchen, one of my favorites. We decided to walk because it finally stopped raining, and on the way I ran into several of the kids I work with. The rumors will still be flying tomorrow! Kids are funny. Saturday evening we went to the goatwalker at Jeff Street, and then headed to a yoga party at our friend Brian's house. That's right a yoga party. Every ten minutes or so we would all stop to do a yoga pose and see who could hold it the longest. I discovered that I can still hold a headstand for quite awhile! (not exactly yoga, but I threw it in). Once everyone was sick of yoga, it turned into a dance party. It was a fun night. In Joel's words, "well that was a very interesting party." Hopefully I will be able to post a couple pictures from it soon. And I am a little sore today. Chad & Joel departed after a wonderful church service and an enjoyable lunch at the Santa Fe Grill. I am not used to eating out so much - my stomach and wallet need a break. The rest of today was spent relaxing, reading, and cleaning. It was a great weekend.

Book & Movie Suggestions: I watched some great movies this past week. In my opinion, "Walk the Line" and "Constant Gardener" are must-sees. Especially the second one. We also ended up watching this German movie called "The Edukators" yesterday. If you like foregin films, this is a good one. And I think everyone should read "The Heart of Christianity" by Marcus Borg. We are reading it for our seminar. We are only a couple chapeters in, but so far I think it is fabulous. We had a great discussion this past Friday (I think having seminar at a coffee shop instead of our living room helped with this, I was actually awake). I am also currently reading "The Poisonwood Bible". Another great one. Isn't it great to not be in school and have time to watch movies and read for pleasure?? (well for those of you who aren't in school that is!)

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

My Sons and Daughters

I went home this past weekend for Denise's birthday (I had to make up for missing it last year because I was in Europe - yes that's right, last year at this time I was in Paris) And exciting news, I just found out that I will most likely be making another trip to Europe next summer (in 2007) - to Switzerland and France with my family. Maybe I can make it to Bangladesh as well.... Anyways, Denise's birthday is actually today, she is 12, hard to believe! And having her first boy/girl party this Friday. Not sad I am missing that! But I had a great time at home. I didn't have to work as late on Friday so I got home at a decent time and then made the drive back Monday morning. And my mom bought me the Rent soundtrack (double disc version), so I had something to entertain me on the road. And I am listening to the music right now. And I listened to it at work today. I must admit, I am a little obsessed. I love it! Why did it take me so long to discover this musical? Well back to home...I got a chance to see my friends, even Vicki who was home from law school, so that was nice. Yeah nothing exciting, but it was a good time. I realized I have gone home every month since Thanksgiving for one reason or another, and it is a little much, just because of the long drive and gas money - it's not as easy as the trip from Bluffton! But I always enjoy my time there, so I guess it is worth it!

So you may be wondering what this has to do with my title and the answer is nothing. I will get to that now. I recently came to the realization that I am in love with several of the kids I work with. I feel like they are my children. Is this normal? One of my co-workers and I actually refer to them as our sons and daughters. For example, the other day Louise said to me "Hey, our son is here early" and I knew exactly who she was talking about. Louise and I have a few kids together now. I try very hard not to show favortism though. It wasn't so easy today. My son Jamal was crying because someone stole his CDs and I felt so bad for him! I mean he had tears streaming down his face. He showed me who took them and let's just say I was not very nice to this guy (plus, he isn't one of my sons!) He was older and claimed that Jamal stole his homework first, but I assumed he was lying. Which he probably was. But I should probably talk to my son tomorrow to make sure he isn't stealing people's homework. In addition to Jamal, I have also decided that Juma, James, Fatuma, Amina, Ibrahim, and Gesma are also my children. The list will surely grow. I haven't heard back from grad schools, so I have yet to make my decision. But my children are one reason it would be hard to leave Louisville after only a year. I have to see them grow up! Laura - do you feel this attached to the kids you teach? Maybe not since you have your own on the way, and you have to see them for longer periods of time in a very different setting.

Exercise update: Ok so I am not exercising every day like I said, but I am defnitely working out more often which is a good thing. I already feel better. I did manage to do Pilates tonight, although I think I should wait a little longer between dinner and exercising next time! That's what sucks about getting home at 7. I could get up early to work out, but you know that is never going to happen.