Monday, January 19, 2009

What a great day......

What a fantastic day.....

It's MLK day, the day before Barack Obama's inauguration, AND a day with snow, snow, snow. We went sledding in Astoria park for the second day in a row! Fun!

To celebrate MLK day, I've signed us up for volunteering as a family. We're doing the community garden thing again, which is good, but we're also doing some fundraising, and will be helping to clean up the parks and waterfront this spring.

Clarification in order: I checked the parks dept, and the Astoria Waterfront websites, but haven't seen the dates yet for cleaning, BUT, I will be checking to make sure that we are there. And if not, we will call and make our own date to help out.

To help out with little kids is super hard. I do have the time, if I make it there without incident, but bringing them along can make the actual helping part almost impossible. My commitment depends on my ability to take my husband along with me, so that someone is with the little guy, and the other adult can help our big guy understand that we are there to have fun, but also help others or our environment. Maybe something will actually get done with all of us there.

Doing "walks"-- breast cancer, autism speaks, the american cancer society event in Astoria park, and whatever else we can squeeze in this spring and summer (AIDS? Hunger? we support it all.....) is really easy to do with kids, though, so we will try to do more of those this year.

Of course, I am often torn. It's not like I'm a rich dowager. So, my fundraising is usually pretty small. Does one do a lot of walks? Is that a good use of the rather small amount of money that I use for donations? I emailed folks I knew once for a breast cancer walk and got some pretty substantial sponsors. But, should we really be spreading out our money like that-- I mean, we could give ONE organization one nice check, instead of giving a bunch little teeny checks.

I do want to support the organizations that mean something to our friends, though, so I guess that we will be doing a bunch this year, regardless.

And, I feel that these walks are also a good way to introduce philanthropy and trying to make a difference (TRYING) to our kids. Are there other ways? Sure, but this is something that we can do as a family, and with others, and can say, "See all these people? They also care about this and want to help."

So much of "volunteering" in my house when growing up was done in hiding. My parents wrote checks to organizations, and I never heard about it. My parents gave time to our church, but I didn't learn about it until later. Giving to others was not something that we talked about. Like money. And I never thought that it was very important to my parents. Volunteering doesn't really do anything for my dad, so he says. Why does it do something for me?

I don't want to be "showy" about volunteering with our kids, like it's something that needs to be flaunted or deserving of great pride, but I do want them to know that it is something that is really fun (most of the time, at least), needed, and an important part of being a good citizen and person here. And, it's important to me. I hope that it becomes important to them.

I wonder how much of what will begin tomorrow will affect them? I grew up with Regan, mostly, during my formative years.

I read an interesting article about the Bush presidency, and consuquential handing over of the reigns to Obama in the Financial Times (of all places!)

"Tomorrow Mr Bush will hand over to a man who won a thumping victory by rekindling a dormant American enthusiasm for public service. Mr Obama could not have done it without Mr Bush. Among the epitaphs available, Prof Lindsay's from his home state of Texas might prove the most enduring. 'I can summarise Bush's legacy in two words,' he says, 'Barack Obama'."