Being of service to others and to my community has been important from a very young age. My mother had me start volunteering with children and teens with disabilities starting at the age of 9. She wanted me to learn humility, generosity, and selflessness. Through the years I have come to love being of service to others, it truly is what fills my cup up. The reward I gain from service work has to be far beyond what I am able to give to others. Here is just an overview of some of the organizations I collaborate with.
Alzheimer's Association: I have been volunteering with the Alzheimer's Association for the last 3 years on their Walk Committee. My grandmother passed away in 2004 from Alzheimer’s and dementia so this cause is near and dear to my heart. For two years I volunteered at the Mission Chair, responsible for ensuring that the mission and vision of the Alzheimer's Association were central to the annual walk. Part of that responsibility was opening every committee meeting with a "Mission Moment", bringing everyone back to the core of what our work and fundraising does in the lives of those affected by Alzheimer's.
Kairos: Kairos is a prison ministry that is done throughout the United States. For the past 2 years, I have been going into San Quentin with the Kairos community to bring 4-day retreats to the men inside. The retreats focus on faith, love, hope, and forgiveness. These weekends are some of the most powerful moments and experiences of my life. To be surrounded by men that most people think of only as criminals, murderers, thieves, and rapists, and truly be able to see them as humans and part of this greater universe has been such a blessing in my life. Although I go in as a service to them, it is truly their spirits that are a service to me. I learn so much from these men, and am so grateful and honored to be a part of impacting their lives.
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Cursillo: This is also a faith-based community that brings spiritual retreats to the Bay Area community. I have been involved with Cursillo since 2015. We are the only ecumenical division of Cursillo, so we have participants of all different Christian denominations coming together to be surrounded by love and community. A good portion of the participants of these weekends are from the recovery community or underserved community. Watching those that have very little give of what they do have is very heartwarming and gives me great hope. Again, this service is one in which I feel I receive more than I give. Being of service is something that truly fills my cup up.
Seeds 4 Recovery: Seeds 4 Recovery is a non-profit aimed at helping those members and families in the recovery community learn about the benefits of gardening and eating whole foods. I helped to build out their community outreach and education program. As a member of the recovery community myself, it was a joy to be able to bring my education and experience with nutrition to a very underserved population. The rehabilitation centers that we partnered with were all county-funded, and many of the residents had come off the streets or from the judicial system. Being able to educate others about the vast benefits of food and getting their hands dirty in the soil was such a joy. It showed me how hungry people are for this knowledge and know-how; especially being able to teach this population about more affordable ways to eat a more healthy and wholesome diet.