My fondest birthday wish is that folks get out and volunteer in their communities. Yeah, it’s kind of corny but a bitch doesn’t need much for myself except to be among friends and family…and vodka and cran (wink). Whether through work or some other outlet, this bitch sincerely wishes that everyone experience the satisfaction of being a volunteer!
And on that note with extreme happiness at a birthday present a day early…
This bitch started volunteering in the St. Louis community several years ago. Although my background is not in social work or mental health, this bitch found being a volunteer to be both rewarding and not all that hard. There were tons of resources and people to help me out and the young women at the shelter are amazing and inspiring too.
My first year volunteering at the shelter was the ultimate learning experience. The shelter houses 10 families of single teen moms and their chil’ren. Some of the moms had an unplanned pregnancy and some of them were pregnant as the result of rape. All of them were homeless and the shelter provided mental health counseling, transitional housing support and assistance with continuing education and job placement. Although a bitch tried to remain detached and just teach my classes, my ass quickly bonded with some of the young women.
One young lady in particular really worked her way into my heart. She was very shy and withdrawn, even with her 2 month old little girl. And, therefore, a bitch was challenged to make her feel at ease and get her excited about the various topics. Over time she began to get more vocal and engage in our various discussions. She was so bright and serious…a mother at 16 years old with so much responsibility on her shoulders.
One day we were chatting after class and a bitch shared with her how impressive her work was. She ducked her head and said that there was nothing impressive about her.
“You don’t know me. I’m not special at all. I’m not clean and I’ll never be clean again.”
A bitch asked her what she meant, careful to keep my voice even and my tone without judgment.
She then shared with me that she had been raped. She did not report the incident to police. Three months later she found out she was pregnant. A few weeks after that, her family booted her out of the house.
While struggling to remain calm, my ass also struggled against rage. No woman should have to endure what this young woman went through. A bitch talked to her about her dreams and hopes…her plans and fears…her insecurities and self doubt. She was seeing a counselor, working full time and studying for her GED.
With classes each week and sometimes on the weekend, a bitch saw this young woman a lot. When our classes came to an end, a bitch was thrilled to hear that she was moving into transitional housing with her baby. She had completed her GED and was now working full time. A bitch moved on to a new set of young mothers, but that young woman never left my mind or my heart.
So, this morning a bitch called the shelter to schedule my voter education classes. After some general conversation and serious scheduling, my contact shared that this young mother had called the shelter to inquire about me a few weeks ago. She wanted to know if 'that proper talking girl still taught those classes’. Just hearing that brought a smile to my face.
“How is she doing, by the way?”…my ass couldn’t help but ask.
“Oh, she’s having the darndest time!”... my contact stated.
Oh no! A bitch’s stomach dropped. Shit!
“She’s had to reschedule her second semester classes around work and is frustrated. But we told her that this might happen and it will all work out."
What? Second semester classes?
Yes, that young woman who touched my soul was trudging her way through college. She wants to be...will be...a social worker. And she wanted to know if a bitch still taught classes there because she was interested in dropping by and saying hello.
We hooked up on the phone a few minutes ago and a bitch hopes to see her next week and hear all about the perils of college (wink).
A bitch is sharing this story with her permission. She got a real kick out of my request and a bitch got a real kick out of hearing her laugh. She told me laughingly that she started out wanting to prove me wrong…that she wasn’t capable of the things a bitch kept telling her she was capable of…that she was somehow forever flawed. But then she started to enjoy the small successes, the feeling of achievement when she received her GED…the feeling of accomplishment when she paid her bills and cleaned her home. And she just wanted to let me know that she was happy…pissed at her new schedule at school, but happy. Her baby is a wild child, she said, with that quirky parental pride in her voice.
And this bitch can’t wait to see them both next week…its like knowing what my present is, but having to wait a week to unwrap it!
In my few years as a volunteer my ass has seen the good, the bad and the ugly. For every success story there is one of a continued struggle, and for every one of those there is the possibility of success, however it is defined.
Of all the things a bitch could have been given for my birthday a day early, hearing that one of my first sorta-students was living…participating…surviving and so much more just made my fucking year!