The Vacation Volunteer

ReachOut Women’s Center, Tucson, Arizona

Volunteering here was so much fun, I flew back two weeks later to help again.  It’s a very rewarding place to volunteer.  It’s a happy place – a place where moms and dads in need can come and get clothing, car seats, toys for their kids. Local groups are generous, local volunteers are tireless, and local families are given support on many levels.

I met some awesome women who volunteer anywhere from 1-5 days a week, take laundry home to treat stains and make small repairs if needed, fold, sort, and create darling outfits from the bags of donations.  They sort them by gender, size and season – and not just clothes.  There is a shed full of diapers and pull-ups and boxes of swimwear and hats and holiday themed clothing.  There are car seats and mobiles and … a lot to do.

In my two volunteer stints at RWC, I met Joanne – a “fun-size” ball of energy who fills orders like a blaze of light; Marge – the platoon leader with a beautiful smile and a heart of gold; Jeanne – an expert at finding just the right shirt for that extra pair of Sponge Bob shorts; Denise – a regular who brings her teenage girls and lets them learn for themselves the reward of serving others in need.

Executive Director Lori Giovannini, enthusiastically intense about her job, sat with me for a few minutes. It was clear from the get-go that she loves helping others — and putting together people who need help with those who have a need to help others.

I already knew that volunteering is good for the soul of the volunteer.  But I learned that volunteering on vacation is rewarding in other, unexpected ways as well.  I met wonderful, funny, local women who told me about places to go see and things to go do in Tucson I would not have known about otherwise. I renewed my belief that most people in the world have good hearts, despite the ongoing battering of the mainstream media.  I saw both sides of need (the helping and the helped) bring people together and foster understanding and compassion.

Will I go back? Yes.  Will I spend the letters of this sentence challenging you to find a Vacation Volunteer? Yes.  Just do it, you’ll be so glad you did.

For more specific information on ReachOut Women’s Center , please visit facebook.com/ReachoutWomensCenter, or call 520-321-4300.

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