After a manic Monday and a troubling Tuesday morning, I enjoy going over to David Douglas High school to volunteer for the afternoon tutoring sessions, organized by IRCO. I work with kids who are enrolled in the ESL classes helping them with their homework and helping them prepare for exam. Being there gives me a boost of energy and I cannot stop smiling the rest of the week.

Working as a tutor wasn’t the first taste I had to volunteer in the community. I had done some work back in Michigan during college. It was rewarding, but it came few times of the year and very far in between. 

Since returning to Portland last September I signed up for the tutoring group at the High school. Helping the kids and realizing that I actually made a difference in their day, even if I could not solve their trigonometry problems. Sometimes we would hang out and talk about everyday life. Being with them got me thinking about trying to have a positive impact on more people. 

Of course I went back to the google machine for answers on where to volunteer in Portland. I could not believe the amount of results that I was bombarded with; there is an endless amount of possibilities to volunteer in Portland. Knowing I could make a difference in someone’s day I decided I would start going to a couple of events here and there.  I wanted this to be part of my life though, not a sporadic event that I would attend as I had in the past.

Twice per month doesn’t sound like too much, so I decided I would do some kind of volunteer work that often aside from the tutoring. Every time I think about the volunteer work I do I realized that I am a small part of something bigger. I am helping or being a part of someone’s dream and vision. The people who organize these non-profits, whom I’ve had a chance to work with are people who have a goal to better the community in their own way. I’ve had the pleasure to work with organizations that I never imagined existed, everything from fixing bicycles at Bikes for Humanity, to planting trees with Friends of the Trees, and even removing pavement to plant more trees with DePave. 

There is a “Je ne sais quoi” that attracts so many people to Portland. I think the true sense of community by individuals around the city and by those visionaries who set up these non-profits is what differentiates our community from others. There is a sense of friendship with strangers. Volunteering will always be rewarding to me, but in the big scheme of things, I hope it helps someone else more than it helps me to keep going through my week.



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