Why 52 Hours a Year?

52 out of 8,760.


Doesn’t sound like a lot, does it?


How about 1 out of 168? Even better, huh?


That’s how much I’m going to try to volunteer this year.


One hour a week.


That’s only 52 hours out of 8,760 yearly, or 1 hour out of 168 weekly.


Sounds easy when you put it that way, doesn’t it?


Now let’s talk logistics.


I’m a dancer on the National Tour of the Lion King.


This makes life complicated, which I wrote about at length here.


Basically, living on the road means that I don’t have a steady home. I move from city to city every month or so. This makes establishing a regular place to volunteer difficult, to say the least.


Usually, non-profits frown upon spending time and resources to train a volunteer who will only be around for four weeks. Sometimes there’s lengthy background checks or health tests you have to go though to be approved to work with people, such as hospice patients or the elderly. Sometimes there are training classes that only run once a month, and I’ll have just missed it. Sometimes it’s a smaller town that lacks in the basic infrastructure to have a bunch of volunteering opportunities.


And sometimes I feel like I just don’t have the time or energy to navigate all of these hurdles, on top of the basic challenges of a gypsy life, which include, but aren’t limited to, finding a place to live, grocery shop, work out, hang out, and retain my sanity while living without a constant home base.


But this year will be different.


This year, I’m committing to finding a way to give back to this great big world every week.


Some weeks I’ll have to be a little creative if I can’t find an official non-profit to work at, but I’ll do my best not to cut corners. The challenges will force me to be creative with my volunteering efforts, especially in cities where I can’t find any places to volunteer. The prospect of this is exciting, intimidating, and exhilarating all at the same time.


In fact, the difficult aspect of this is what initially attracted me to the idea in the first place. Last year I tried a “12 in 12” challenge, where I would volunteer with a different organization once a month, which would result in 12 volunteering efforts in 12 months. Needless to say, this seemed imminently do-able.


But when December 2013 rolled around and I realized I had only completed 8 out of 12 volunteer hours, I was a bit defeated. Why was it so hard for me to find 12 hours out of the year to give back?


So this year, I went all or nothing.


Beyond the potential difficulty of finding places to give my time, I’m not sure what to expect. I’m hoping for some memorable experiences, looking forward to meeting lots of different people, and wondering how this endeavor will change my world view.  Will my perspective on time management change? Will my view on volunteering alter in any way? Will I be able to complete the challenge at all? Have I completely gone mad?


These are all questions I’m hoping to answer, one week at a time.


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