The Making of a Professional Volunteer

Good Morning America (GMA) did a spot yesterday about teens and summer jobs.  First Daughter, Sasha Obama, apparently has a summer job at a seafood stand and GMA was reporting that less than one third of teens are taking summer positions.  They mentioned a few reasons for this statistic, one of them being just a lack of jobs being available.

All that talk got me thinking about the various summer jobs I have held from my pre-teen years to now.  Being a teacher for so many years, I have been given the opportunity to switch gears in the summer months, if I so chose, and do something different.  I had dreams of working on cruise ships or leading various challenge camp experiences in remote areas.  For various reasons, I was never able to do those things, but I did have some different experiences that have helped shape who I am today and perhaps lead me to my next phase of life.

My earliest job, at the age of 11, was as the neighborhood babysitter.  I had quite a business for an 11 year old!  Many times I was charged with five or more very small children, for an entire day, needing to make sure all of them were safe, fed, clean, and happy.  I was only 11!  But I must have done that job really well, because I was the most requested sitter in town, by parents and kids alike and good grief did I make some good money in those years!  From those connections, I also grew my own pet sitting and house sitting business.  When those families would go out of town for vacation or other reasons, I was left to make sure their home stayed safe and their plants and pets were kept alive and well.

I was 14 or 15 years old when I got my first “real” job.  I worked in the town’s bakery.  As a diabetic, my mom was less than thrilled that I had secured that position.  The idea of me being immersed in a world of sugar everyday, all day long, was one she thought to be most dangerous to my health.  The fact was, working in a bakery was the best job for me!  Being surrounded by sugar all day long made that sweet treat the last thing I wanted to reach for when I was hungry.  I craved salads and meat and foods with substance.  I was sad when that bakery closed shortly after I took that job.

A couple doors down from that bakery was a toy store that I had frequented quite often as a young child.  The manager recognized me when I approached him for a job and that was my next adventure in summer jobs.  My boss was also willing to give me weekend hours throughout the school year and during Christmas vacation.  What a FUN place to work during the holiday season!  I also learned a lot about retail business and price management and how to order inventory and stock shelves properly.

As I was getting ready to go off to college and wanted to have jobs and experience geared toward my future interests, I obtained a position in a daycare center near my home.  I became the head teacher for the school age children and was responsible for activities to keep them occupied all day during the summer months.  My class ranged in age from 5 to 10 years old and it was a challenge to keep all of them happy and entertained for an entire day. It was through this job that I found I really did want a career in teaching and that my love for children was real!

As my college years were coming to an end, I became much more concerned with making money and less concerned searching for jobs that I would enjoy.  The summer after my junior year in college I took a job as a proof reader at a check printing company.  I made great money that summer.  And hated every single second of that summer job!  It was through that position that I learned I was not cut out for corporate America or a desk / office job.  I needed to be with young people and moving around and laughing.  Although it was a job I did not care for, I learned quite a bit about myself and others that summer, so it was not a complete waste of my time.

I was blessed with a teaching job my first year out of college.  I became a third grade teacher in a local Catholic school and they were the absolute best five years of my life!  I was doing exactly what I knew I wanted to be doing and I had the perfect age to work with, plus the faculty with whom I started my career were some of the most stellar people I have ever met!  They were strong powerful women, secure with themselves and their careers and they taught me with the same conviction they taught their students.  I am so grateful for how I launched my career of twenty five years.  I was not making enough money to survive on my own, but I was completely happy in what I was doing and that made all the difference in the world to me at that point in my life.

In order to survive, I had to have side jobs and summer jobs to fund my weekly food bill and other necessities.  My favorite one was as a dog walker.  I joined forces with a woman who ran her own dog walking business and everyday, I had three or four dogs that I would have to RUN for an hour at a local park.  Three or four hours of running every single day had me in the best shape of my life, plus I was hanging out with some pretty cute and fun furry friends. I was really sad when she decided to fold her business and move on to other adventures for herself.

I ended up launching my own tutoring business in the summers and good grief was I busy!  I worked forty hours a week, jumping from the local library to the homes of the kids I tutored to classrooms in various school buildings.  I bought my first car and put a down payment on my first home from that little business of mine! I still have students I tutor now and from that little endeavor, I have also launched my own Test Prep class for eighth graders preparing for their high school entrance exams.

In between all those jobs, I have done a ton of volunteer work as well. Those adventures have truly become the heart and soul of who I am and what matters most to me.  I have worked with the elderly, the homeless, the sick and disabled, young children, troubled teens, struggling families, neglected animals . . .and I now endeavor to fill every single second of every single day of my life with doing anything and everything I can to help others.  That is the very heart and soul of who I have become and what matters most to me and I am so grateful for the many people and positions in my life that have helped shape me into this person I am today.

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4 Responses to The Making of a Professional Volunteer

  1. Sally Kelly says:

    Mo,
    Wow! You’ve had a lot of jobs and I just know that you’ve touched many lives with your caring, loving disposition!! I am quite sure you are that teacher whose students remember for a lifetime because you took the time to go the extra mile and make them feel like they could succeed.
    I was that same neighborhood babysitter that you were (starting at age 9) and I had a “school” set up in my basement for the neighborhood kids when I wasn’t babysitting. My Elementary teachers would send copies of worksheets home with my younger sister to give me for my “classroom.” I always thought I wanted to be a teacher, but I ended up being a flight attendant. I’ve always been a people person… an open book with a bleeding heart. I don’t like to be the center of attention, but I like to make other people feel loved and that they matter. I’ve always had a special place in my heart for teachers (my Mom taught kindergarten) and I know you would have been one of my favorites if my kids had you!!

    • mo22tivation says:

      Saaaallllllllyyyyyyyy!!!!!!!!!! I’ve been thinking of you!! Wondering how Kate is doing in OH??!! Kris was here to visit back in June and I was asking for you! I told her when I get healthy and am able to get to TX, my priority was to meet you in person!! Thanks, as always, for your more than kind words. How’s your daughter doing? Making out okay?? And how are YOU?? Guessing its hard to have a bit of a quieter house now??

      • Sally Kelly says:

        Hey Mo!
        I would Love to meet you, too! Kate is doing great in Bend, Oregon!! I miss her a lot, but I can’t be sad because she is so happy! All I want for our kids is their happiness and to love what they do. Kate is a natural light photographer, so the setting is perfect! She loves to camp, hike and bike, also! Perfect place! Someday we plan on having a place out there… The timing isn’t right yet. Something to look forward to!! Our oldest son, Patrick, graduated from Baylor in May and decided to take a job with our company! We are thrilled as you can imagine! We didn’t force the issue… He had several job offers but decided to work for us ! Very cool! Our youngest, Reed, will be a junior this year. Wow, how time flies!!
        Glad you could see Kristin this summer! I just had lunch with her last week! She is precious!! Hope you are enjoying your summer! I include you in my prayers every night and I hope you are feeling okay. I love reading your blog! You have a gift for writing! As well as many other gifts, of course!!!
        Hugs,
        Sally

      • mo22tivation says:

        Whoopsie . . .Oregon! So glad she is doing well 🙂 Ask Kris about my Chicago / Colorado issue . . ..and then tell her I thought Kate was in Ohio not Oregon . . . should make her laugh out loud like it did me 🙂 Congrats for the family business! You must be very proud :)So grateful for those prayers . . .and please be assured of mine in return!

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