"I'd hammer in the morning
I'd hammer in the evening
All over this land
I'd hammer out danger
I'd hammer out a warning
I'd hammer out love between my brothers and my sisters
All over this land"
            Lee Hays, Pete Seeger

Just a couple of things for this week.  Life's been pretty slow.  I'm no longer taking that horrible, dreaded, no good, no use, Social Work and the Law class this term ... the absence of which has improved my attitude immensely.  Immensely.  Feels like an entirely new term.  Er, well, technically, it is an entirely new term.  A term  in which I'm taking Midlife and Beyond and my year long Social Work class (it's called Generalist - which is pretty fitting).  (My 86 year old client at my internship asked what I was taking this term and when I told him about Midlife and Beyond, I told him it reminded me of Toy Story and Buzz Lightyear's "To Infinity ... and beyond!"  He cast a weary eye towards me and said, "There's nothing that exciting on this side of midlife.")

But that's not the point.

The point is that April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and Child Abuse Awareness Month.  The president of my university just sent out the driest, most impersonal letter about Sexual Assault Awareness Month linking the avoidance of sexual assault only to Social Sustainability.  But maybe the point is that he sent it at all.  Here's what I'll say about sexual assault:  if you have general questions, go ask your local Domestic and Sexual Violence Advocacy Center -- they'll be so excited to talk to you.   If you, yourself, have been a victim, and it's possible that you may question if you have been a victim, please call a hotline - how about 1800 656 HOPE --  or your local advocacy center.  You don't have to get give your name.  You get to follow up how you want to.

And April is Child Abuse Awareness Month.  Oh, the stories I could tell you.  Of hurt, of trauma, but even more incredibly, of hope, healing, redemption and restoration.
Some of the images that agencies use for this month are really and truly terrible.  They're true, and attention must be paid to this intensely impacting trauma, but I'm of the mindset that people don't need to see pictures of bruised babies more than what's necessary.

Image by HandsOn Network

So Child Abuse.  Soooooo many things you could do.    You could donate clothes, cribs, baby clothes, etc. to your local Child Welfare office.  Times are tough and these agencies are experiencing cutbacks like you wouldn't believe.   You could do more on the risk prevention end and volunteer for Big Brothers, Big Sisters.  You could help with Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA)! You could contact your local Child Welfare office to see about Foster Parenting.  If you're really ambitious, you could contact your local Child Welfare office to see about adopting a foster child. Now here's the thing about adopting foster kids, I must tell you.  These amazing kids have a range of experiences and some of them are still healing.  So ... they may act like kids who have been abused.  If you have questions about this, drop me a note and we'll chat.  If you can't do any of these things, you could devote some time during the week towards prayer / sending positive thoughts.  I love these kids.  I love these kids more than I can say.

Also, next week is Volunteer Appreciation Week.  Doesn't that coincide nicely with the previous paragraph?  I think so!

 I don't think I could begin to tell you what crucial work volunteers provide to our public sector.  I've volunteered, or supervised volunteers, for the past decade. (How am I that old? I don't even know.)  Volunteering is altruistic, yes, it's rewarding, it's challenging, sometimes it's frustrating, it creates community.

Image from Child of Office and Youth Protection

We're part of a human family.  There are so many different ways to volunteer (one of my best friends in my graduate program has a husband who volunteers at a tool library.  A tool library!  People check out tools for home repairs).  It's part of us taking care of each other. (I have no idea when this blog started to sound so touchy / feel-y / earthy.)  I'll spend the next 30 seconds listing off the top of my head ways I can think of to volunteer:

Your church
The Public Library
Big Brothers / Big Sisters
Your local nursing home
Your local domestic violence / sexual violence advocacy agency
Your local hospital (this one should count for 15 more due to the variety of opportunities)
Your local refugee advocacy agency (do you speak a foreign language?  Are you bi cultural?)
Habitat for Humanity
Your local animal Shelter
Highway cleanup
Tutor at a local school
The Zoo
The Children's Museum

Ok, that was 30 seconds.  The point is not the list. The point is to be inspired to help in a way that is good for you, doing work that matters to you.  Somebody will always receive.

I was first a volunteer with my church.  Then I volunteered at a Domestic Violence Hotline.  Then I volunteered as part of a Sexual Assault Response Team.  Then more church volunteering.  Now I volunteer my time as a courtesy CASA for a local foster youth and I conduct mock job interviews at a local high school  for teens with learning disabilities.

My sister used to volunteer for the Emergency Room and the animal shelter.  My mother and father are Red Cross volunteers.  Red Cross!  I should have remembered that for the list!  And your local Juvenile Detention Center -  I should have remembered that one, too!  (Now I'm just cheating.)

If you have anything you'd like to add here about volunteering, please do!  I know that it's not right for every person in every season ... but it's my hope that during at least one season in our lives volunteering will play a significant role.    I'm also curious as to what other volunteering opportunities my 30 second list missed ...


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