Giving back to the community is always a surefire way to warm your heart from the inside out. It’s true — there are many ways you can contribute and donating money is one of them. But actually participating and getting your hands “dirty” so to speak is when you really start to feel the impact of donating your time.
Recently I spent a day with City of Dreams out in The Presidio. City of Dreams is a local non-profit that works with at-risk youth through involvement and mentorship to build better futures for kids in the Hunter’s Point/Bayview area. I’ve never had experience working with youth and I gave up babysitting when I dropped a 1 year old on its head (on accident!) so I didn’t know how I would fare in providing guidance and direction. Turns out, I guess I wasn’t too bad!
We all met up at the hostel at Fort Mason where I was introduced to the kids and we all enjoyed lunch. There were many other mentors who were very close with their mentees and had been working with them closely on a mural project. Earlier in the year the kids got together to brainstorm the stereotype of the Hunter’s Point/Bayview district and the actual diverse, complex neighborhood it is, and painted two separate murals. The goal is to show visitors that San Francisco has so much more to it than simply the “ghetto” neighborhoods that some assume plague metropolitan cities.
The kids presented these colorful murals that day and they are now on display in the hostels downtown. They were so astute and realize that they have the ability to control their future. I also felt very privileged to hear a powerful poem written by one of the main mural project contributors about the struggles of living in this oft-forgotten community.
Our theme of the day was “self-esteem” and we continued on to House of Air to continue our lessons in building self-confidence. I loved seeing how excited and happy the kids were to be at HOA! House of Air is an indoor trampoline park in The Presidio where you may reserve jumping slots by the hours and can even indulge your inner six-year old and play dodgeball! And that we did. Not only was it fun jumping around the trampolines with the kids, but I was ESCATIC to finally check out this place that I’ve been hearing about with such rave reviews. The youths had endless energy while the adults (at least me) needed a few breaks.
After our hour of monkey jumping, dodgeball-ing and back-flipping, we all gathered around for a group photo. It was a bittersweet moment to hug everyone from City of Dreams goodbye, but I left with an extra pep in my step knowing that we all can make a difference in someone else’s life. I definitely recommend this as a self-esteem boost that no amount of money can buy!
I also found this awesome website called One Brick which lists volunteer opportunities by date. The best part is that there’s no obligation — just sign up when you are available!
“Love without limits!”