Week Seven: Random Acts of Kindness Weak (Week….)

Project: Love Letters for the Elderly and Random Acts of Kindness Week

Actual Time Taken: 35 minutes

Blast. Missed my weekly hour goal again. But at least that “A” for effort is there, right??

I finally finished up the Love Letters for the elderly program by dropping off our 300+ Valentines Day cards to the Meals on Wheels of Honolulu. (The entire campaign raised over 100,000 cards nationwide, which is nothing short of amazing!) I’m happy to report that they were completely taken aback by the volume of cards and were extremely appreciative. It felt so good to drop them off to the office and see the surprise on their faces at the sheer number of construction paper hearts.

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“Hearts” and crafts. Ha!

Also, Facebook, where I (sadly) ingest most of my breaking social news, informed me that it was Random Acts of Kindness Week. Feeling a bit lazy after such a concentrated effort on the Love Letters project for so many weeks, I decided to make this the focus of my hour of volunteering for the week.

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Random Acts of Kindness RAKS… apparently.

To kick off Random Act of Kindness (or RAK, as the graphic above calls it) week, I pulled out the ‘big guns,’ and bought a $10 Jamba Juice card (after purchasing my own Strawberry Raspberry Banana with energy booster, natch). I instructed the slightly confused cashier to give it to the next customer who came into the store. I was lucky enough to see this person come in as I waited for my order to be filled, and smiled quietly to myself into my matcha green tea shot as the woman receiving the card reacted with surprise and delight. She covered her mouth in shock and kept saying “No way, no way!

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My friend Hero and I downing our matcha green tea shots with our brave faces on…

Yes way, lady. It’s the power of the RAK.

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Ideas for Random Acts of Kindness. #6 is something weird like “try a new fruit,”

so I guess that falls under being kind to your… body?

The next day, I brought sushi to a friend at work (Ok, not so random… but still kindright?) because I know she loves it and it absolutely made her smile. Wednesday, I went on a scuba diving trip and ended up giving a ride to some people on the trip who I had just met but who were stranded at the dive shop, but that really felt like something I would do any given day, so I’m not sure how much that ‘counted.’ (Also, I’m not sure if I know who’s actually ‘counting,’ either. So there’s that…)

Thursday night, while grocery shopping with my boyfriend, I realized I hadn’t done a RAK Act (as I’ve now coined it, ahem…) for the day, so at the checkout register I bought the Kit Kats on sale, 4 for $3 (what a steal!) and gave one to the cashier, one to the person behind us in line, one to my boyfriend, and one to myself. (It’s kinda like the list says about trying new fruit, except I’m being nice to my tongue and not necessarily my body…)

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So this article came out yesterday. Timely! (And strange, what’s a Chicken Dinner candy bar?!)

Friday I fell behind and had planned to make up for it over the weekend, by doing lots of extra ‘acts,’ but by Saturday morning I found myself in the hospital, doped up on morphine for the first (and hopefully last) time of my life.

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Oh don’ t you worry. I checked in at the hospital on Facebook. Natch.

A little personal medical history: four years ago I herniated a disk in my neck. This is one of the many party gifts that a career in dance leaves you with- numerous, random, and sometimes serious injuries you get to nurse into your twilight years. Anywho, Friday night I felt something strange in my neck while I was dancing on stage, but ignored it, as we dancers are used to ignoring most pain… that is, until you can’t anymore. That moment came for me sometime around 6 am on Saturday morning, when I woke up in a full neck spasm and unable to move whatsoever.

Long story short, a trip to the ER and a litany of drugs knocked me out for the rest of the week, thereby stealing my chances to continue my RAK week (yes, lame excuse, going to the hospital. I know…) but I think I’ll try to sneak a few acts in this week (I think I’m about three behind?) to finish out my RAK week strong! (My neck, on the other hand, will be taking it nice and eeeeasy…)

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Week Six: Finishing up and starting a(new)

Project: Love Letters for the Elderly and Bureau of Education and Services for the Blind

Actual Time Taken: 30 minutes

 This week I made two realizations. One- I’m not technically behind on blogs. I can’t very well write about what I’ve done during the week before it’s over, now can I? So now I’m writing in retrospect– such as this week- since it’s currently Week 7,  I’ll write about Week 6. So now I won’t be so hard on myself for being ‘behind‘ anymore. (See my resolutions post on being nicer to myself in 2014)

Secondly, I realized that without proper motivation (i.e. money) I probably wouldn’t get close to the goal of 500 Valentines Day cards for the senior citizens with Meals on Wheels program in the greater Honolulu area. So after posting posters to entice my 100+ person cast to help out with the cause, I upped my ante (literally) and offered a reward for the most cards made and a random raffle that everyone who made a card would be entered into.

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Apparently, that did the trick.

By the end of the week, we were pushing 250 cards, and more were being made daily. On Sunday, our little cubs counted up the cards and found out that our grand total was 330 cards! Amazing!!!

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Unfortunately, making the incentive posters only took about 15 minutes, and I was feeling a bit run down, so I didn’t take too much time to make more cards. (I told you I would be honest about falling short of my hour goal every week!) To try make up for that lost time, I started on my next project, which is for the Bureau of Education and Services for the Blind.

This is a program I signed up for years ago when I was touring in the north east, but never got a chance to actually volunteer for them. They offer many services, such as interpreting for and reading to the blind. I randomly received an email newsletter a few weeks ago and realized it was perfect for this my mission this year!

I wrote to them about possibly helping out while I’m traveling and they wrote back with the perfect project for me. I will order a book (or get it from the library) that they choose and transcribe it into a Word document. It’s usually a children’s book, so it’s not too lengthy. After I send them the book in Word format, they feed it though a program that will turn it into braille form.

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So I guess I’ll be reading/typing this book for a few weeks…

I ordered the book off of Amazon (another 15 minutes worth of work) and expected it to come early next week. We’ll see how fast Two Day service can get to Hawaii…

I’m a little disappointed that I didn’t make my whole hour of service this week, but I am simply going to use that as motivation for next week. After all….

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Week Five: Behind on Blogs, Recruiting More Writers

Project: Love Letters for the Elderly and Outreach for the Lion King

Actual Time Taken: 2:15

It’s only week five of 2014, and I’m already a bit behind on this blog.

At the beginning of the year, I would have suspected that the hardest part of the experiment of volunteering an hour every week would be finding the projects to volunteer for, but not so… I’m finding that the hardest part is finding the time to write about it!

This week, for example, I have two, count them TWO, volunteering opportunities, and can barely find time to hit the keys about them. Ironic.

The first project I’m continuing is the Love Letters for the Elderly project from dosomething.org, but with a larger goal. We made 35 cards last week, a paltry sum after realizing that the Meals on Wheels in Honolulu services about 500 people.

(We’re gonna need a bigger boat….)

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So I recruited the entire cast.

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We travel about 115 people in the cast and crew of the Lion King. I’m thinking that if we all just made just five cards, we could be done lickity split. But I can’t count on every electrician or singer to have an iota of artistic motivation, so I’ll beg some of my more motivated co-workers to make a few extra cards for the cause.

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Sue in the Puppets Department made her own heart-shaped stamps!! Crafty!

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Our Nala Nia Holloway gets into the charity Valentines Day spirit!

The second volunteering event was a question and answer session with a local school. Our Shenzi, (hyena in the show, Rashada Dawan) organized this outreach, and I always love doing this kind of thing. Getting out of the theater, meeting local people, getting to actually talk to them instead of dancing at them is really fun for me.

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A thank you card from an earlier outreach effort. So cute!

A few of my fellow cast members and I showed up at Governor Wallace Rider Farrington High School at 2:30 on Thursday to talk to the local drama club, The T-Shirt Theater. This group seeks out the most promising talents from three local high schools and trains them in drama, dance, singing, and even backstage crafts. After receiving fragrent lei’s and welcoming hugs, we found ourselves in a large circle with 30 of these young thespians. They invited us to participate in their daily opening exercise of saying their name and something positive that happened to them that day. (Mine went something like “Hi, my name is Selena, and seeing as I was a bit lost and about 10 minutes late, the good thing that happened to me was finding this place!”)

The kids were incredibly attentive and excited to ask us questions about what it was like to live and perform on a real-life Broadway tour. They had great questions, like “When did you know you wanted to be in theater?” and “What was it like to audition?” Thankfully no one asked those awkward questions, that I have actually been asked in Q&A’s around the country, such as “How much money do you make?” and “Can you put a good word in with casting for me?”

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These kids rock!

After two hours of chatting with the group, we taught them Circle of Life, complete with lyrics (The REAL lyrics, not the “pink pajamas, penguins on the bottom” that we all sang as kids…) and choreography. We split the class into groups; one big group of prancing zebras, one group of flapping birds, one group of baby elephants, and one group of leaping gazelles. After we taught them movement and lyrics, we forced them to combine the two at the same time, just like we do every night on stage. As we all dissolved into giggles, I was thankful that such a wonderful volunteering opportunity fell into my lap, and felt good about how I spent my hour giving back this week

Week Four: Wash and Repeat

Project: Love Letters for the Elderly

Actual Time Taken: 45 Minutes

This week I was really torn.

My original goal with this blog was to give an hour a week to charity.

But the rules are fuzzy.

Do I need to give exactly an hour every week? Do I need to find a different charity every week? Do I need to stop making up rules to my own charity blog?

The Answers are: No, No, and Yes.

I had committed to making cards for home-bound seniors through the Letters of Love campaign from www.dosomething.org. I took about an hour last week to make them with the help of our young cubs on our tour. We made about 35 cards and I was feeling pretty good about this number, until I went to drop them off at the local Meals on Wheels location.

I met the local representative, who was very sweet and completely thrilled by the unexpected cards. Smiling, she happily informed me that they will do wonders for the 500 people they deliver meals to every week.

That’s 35 cards. For 500 people.

We have some work to do….

So I decided to dedicate this week’s hour, and every other week’s hour needed to make at least 500 cards for everyone to which they deliver.  Ultimately, I decided that it’s ok that this week’s hour is going to the same charity, since the goal of this project is to experience what it feels like to carve out an hour every week to give to a worthy cause, and not just to find 52 different short term volunteer efforts.

And this week, it feels right to give another hour to the very worthy cause of bringing a smile to a Hawaiian home-bound senior’s face for Valentines Day.