This Crazy Journey

From Kirsten McClain, former AmeriCorps member and all around super-human citizen – HandsOn Northeast Ohio:

I’ve never been good at sentimentality. I don’t enjoy taking pictures, making scrapbooks, or journaling. So I apologize in advance for the lack of nostalgia in this reflective blog post about my experience at HandsOn NEO over the last two years. What I can give is a brief insight into my thoughts at various points on this crazy journey that was my life with HandsOn NEO.

Day 1: August 16, 2010 2:00pm. What did I get myself into?! There is so much going on with this organization. It all seems so cool and exciting and wow do they have a lot of supplies! I can’t wait to start meeting agencies and designing new projects. There is so much potential for the volunteers to really change things in Cleveland and I am lucky to have this opportunity to be involved with such a dynamic organization. 5:00pm. Information overload; major headache; I need a nap.

Day 139: January 1, 2011 10:00am. All right a day off! Happy New Years! I’m going to make pancakes and have a mimosa for breakfast. Those last couple months were hectic. I can’t believe the amount of effort by staff and volunteers at Make a Difference Day, and William Cullen Bryant school painting. I’ve participated in a lot of volunteer events in my life, but nothing was as visually transformative as working alongside hundreds of volunteers to repaint an entire school. It was at that moment that I truly bought into what HandsOn NEO was doing. You cannot deny the impact for those school kids to have newly painted green and orange classrooms. 11:00pm. Time to sleep. There’s much more work to be done tomorrow.

Day 360: August 11, 2011 1:00pm. One more week and my AmeriCorps VISTA term is ending, but wait I have a lot of things left on my To Do List. I need to set up a new animal support project, and expand our adult education programming, and I think there is a possibility HandsOn NEO could support the Homeless Stand Down. Hmmmm, well I guess one year wasn’t long enough to accomplish everything I felt I needed to do and I do enjoy working with Jeff and Jen. So, let’s do it! I’m reenergized and excited continue the work towards transforming the way folks volunteer in Cleveland.

Day 525: January 22, 2012 5:00am. The Homeless Stand Down starts in two hours. Dang I wish I drank coffee. I need to pick up bagels and run to the office and then get down to the Masonic Auditorium. 6:00am. I met Ms. Catherine who was first in line and arrived at 3:00am. I feel the weight of the homeless community on my shoulders as each one of these individuals has been waiting all year long for this day of respite and renewal. I hope and pray that everything goes well and that all the hard work and planning by the Volunteer Leader team will pay off in an amazing event. 7:00pm. There is no time to rest; tomorrow is another day and there is more work to be done. Yes, the volunteers came out in force and lives were impacted, but what is one day, when there are 343 other days this year that individuals will be struggling to make ends meet.

Day 716: July 31, 2012 11:00am. It’s very strange sitting in the office and not having volunteer to call or an agency contact to email. I will miss these interactions. I really feel like I was part of something much bigger than me, but alas all good things must come to an end. I am confident that I have made my mark on the HandsOn community and I must now follow my true passion, which is working directly with the homeless community. I have gained a plethora of skills and experiences that will be invaluable to me in my future endeavors and I thank each and everyone one of you for your support on this wild journey.

Day 1 PHO (Post HandsOn): August 1, 2012 10:00am. I’m bored. When can I start volunteering?


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