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Day 179: Volunteer as a Big Brother or Big Sister

28 Jun

Yes, that is a rare cameo of me (on the left) and my adorable eight-year-old “little sister.” Volunteering with Big Brothers/Big Sisters was on my to-do list for a long time. But I was always overwhelmed with family responsibilities while living in Texas. One of the best parts about moving to Tallahassee was finally having the opportunity to become a mentor with Big Brothers/Big Sisters of the Big Bend. Here’s how it works: you apply and go in for an interview. They ask you questions about your background, your work, why you want to be a Big Sister (or brother), and the types of activites you would plan. You also must pass a background check. If they approve you, what follows, if you’re a woman, is a long wait. They currently have way more Big Sisters than little sisters available. But they lack enough Big Brothers (ahem, adult men of Tallahassee, time to step it up.) While you can be matched with a girl or boy, most parents want their boys matched with adult men and vice versa. I waited nearly a year before getting the call that I had a “match.” It’s been about two months now and it’s definitely one of the most fulfilling things I have ever done. We go to the park, the library, the pool and other fun things together. She confides in me her dreams and fears and I try my best to dispense wisdom. We spend an afternoon together each weekend that I am in town, which is much more than the minimum required. Big Brothers/Big Sisters definitely discourages spending a lot of money on your “little.” The idea is to bond together, not buy their affection. If you are someone who has always wanted to contribute to a cause but lacked the finances to do so, consider becoming a Big. It’s way more rewarding than just writing a check.

Address: All over town

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Day 176: Immerse yourself in art for a cause at Artopia

26 Jun

First, let’s get the basics out of the way. Artopia is an annual art benefit for Big Bend Cares, an HIV/AIDS support organization. Artists donate their work, and attendees bid on the art through silent and live auctions. Proceeds go to Big Bend Cares. The event is well attended with hundreds of well-dressed people crowding the halls of Florida State University’s Turnbull Center to peruse art and nibble on appetizers. It’s a premiere event for the gay and lesbian community and seems an ideal spot to mingle with some of Tallahassee’s most influential powerbrokers. We found a nice mix of art. There was photography of classic Florida sunsets and swampy rivers, and paintings, from the richly textured to the more basic watercolors. The silent auction prices were truly a steal. You could easily walk away with a $450-value painting for $50. We didn’t stay for the live auction, but the room that housed it was packed in anticipation and it looked ripe for bidding wars. Tickets are $25 per person and the event is held annually each summer. I’m told it is one of the most popular charity events in Tallahassee.

Address: This year it was at FSU’s Turnbull Center, at the intersection of Pensacola and Macomb Street.

Day 125: Adopt a pet at the animal shelter

5 May

About two years ago, I ran in a 10K race that benefits the Tallahassee Animal Shelter and afterwards peeked into the cages of homeless dogs and cats. All of the adorable kittens and puppies would thaw the hearts of even the biggest animal-hater. We adopted my cat Winston that day and a month later got a second cat, Stanley, from the Wakulla County animal shelter. Adopting them has been, without question, one of the best decisions of my life. They bring such joy and comfort to me every day. So I’m using this blog as a shameless plug to encourage all of you to consider adopting a pet or even just spend the afternoon visiting with some of the animals at the shelter. Not to get too depressing, but they do put down thousands of animals each year. The shelter itself is set up perfectly for animal window shopping and adopting is fairly inexpensive.

Address: 1125 Easterwood Drive