5 Places to Help Yourself and Help the World

5 Places to Help Yourself and Help the World

AKA the most rewarding way to procrastinate.
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So for most high school and university students, this is the panicky period of time that’s slightly too early for finals yet close enough for those simultaneous feelings of anxiety and procrastination to set in, and we all sit in an educational purgatory waiting for the exam-armageddon to release upon us. Neither studying nor relaxing, many of us have a short break from huge projects, but know that cumulative final or twenty-page paper is just a dash around the corner. So while you’re obviously not studying (which, no shame, we all understand) you could at least spend your time benefitting someone else, if not yourself. So here is a list of places to go where you can not only help others, but also help yourself a bit by not totally time you could be using to study.

*note: this list is specified towards the University of Georgia/Athens area, but with a Google search you can find many similar programs around you.

1. Athens Humane Society

I personally do this one quite often. By going on their website (HERE) you can sign up to volunteer at the Athens Humane Society for a one-hour or multi-hour slot to help with the shelter animals. There’s all sorts of jobs you can do, but especially in the stress of academia, I recommend the socialization volunteering. You basically get to sit in a room with dogs or cats (whichever your preference) and play with them for an hour to get them used to having many different people around so that, when they are finally adopted, they don’t go crazy on their new owners. It’s a lot of fun and the animals are complete angels. Plus, who wouldn’t want to spend an hour cuddling a kitten? I’d rather hold a dog than my Economics textbook.

2. The Morton Theater

The arts are unfortunately receiving little to no funding by public boards, so oftentimes, especially for community theaters, their staff relies entirely on the generosity of donations and volunteering. HERE you can volunteer for many different positions to assist in one of the many choral, theatrical, etc. performances offered at The Morton Theater in Athens. Ushers in particular are needed in every theater, so the Morton is just one example. And very often if you do volunteer, you get free tickets to the show! So if you’re an artsy person like myself (thanks four years of high school theater) this is totally in your element. It’s an easy opportunity with fun benefits, and one of the few jobs that’ll leave you clapping by the end of the night.

3. Rocksprings Community Center

I highlight this particular center because it has a program though UGA, Whatever It Takes, in which students volunteer to give homework help, tutoring, mentoring, and other assistance for special after school programs to the children of Athens-Clarke County. However, at almost every community center there are tutoring, mentoring, and recreational volunteering opportunities. Heads up Early Childhood Ed. majors, here’s a great place to get involved with elementary-aged kids and make a difference in the community around your university. Plus, kids are just fun. Working at a daycare, while stressful, was one of the most fun and rewarding jobs of my life. Thankfully the kids at WIT are a bit older (no diaper-changing required) and there’s no feeling comparable to seeing a smile on a child’s face and knowing you’re the reason behind it.

4) Southeast Clarke Park

Again, another one that applies to almost every park, but I can only talk about one. Southeast Clarke Park was built by volunteers, so they are integral to their structure and upkeep. As a volunteer, you have the choice of either working as a Trail Keeper, which includes safety monitoring, cleaning, and general upkeep, or as a Soccer Coach, in which you’ll commit about two to three hours a week working with a team of kids ages 4-12 to learn the sport, learn to love the sport, and participate in games each week. No prior training is necessary, just come with an understanding of soccer and an enthusiasm for learning! Coaches are some of the most influential forces in a young child’s life, so taking this opportunity will surely be an incredible experience. You can look further into their open positions HERE.

5) Bear Hollow Zoo

This one is by far the most involved, but arguably the coolest of the five. At Bear Hollow Zoo, located in Memorial Park by Five Points, there’s literally bears. How cool is that? All the bears are “rehab” animals, meaning they cannot live in the wild, so they’re pretty much fully socialized. There are many different tasks to perform: animal care, animal training, performing as a docent, meaning you’re the person with all the fun animal/nature facts, or even a tour guide! There are other animals besides the bears, so if you were never a big fan of the Berenstain’s, no problem. The jobs come with basic training, so don’t worry about coming in an animal expert. This is a super fun, unique experience not many can have while in undergrad! So definitely check it out; even if you just want to work for a bit for a special event, this is a place to look into!

Volunteering is a great way to build a resume, benefit the free world, and have some fun, too! You can’t necessarily study all day, we get that, so why not use that procrastinating time, instead of posting on your blog, helping out your community? You’ll leave feeling better about yourself and refreshed from academia, if only for an hour or two. So get ready to stick your nose in those books, but don’t forget about all the good you can do around you to make an impact. Your time is more effective and more influential that you’d think.

Cover Image Credit: http://www.circlesolutions.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Diversity-Hands-Many-Post-1080x675.jpg

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I'm The Girl Without A 'Friend Group'

And here's why I'm OK with it

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Little things remind me all the time.

For example, I'll be sitting in the lounge with the people on my floor, just talking about how everyone's days went. Someone will turn to someone else and ask something along the lines of, "When are we going to so-and-so's place tonight?" Sometimes it'll even be, "Are you ready to go to so-and-so's place now? Okay, we'll see you later, Taylor!"

It's little things like that, little things that remind me I don't have a "friend group." And it's been like that forever. I don't have the same people to keep me company 24 hours of the day, the same people to do absolutely everything with, and the same people to cling to like glue. I don't have a whole cast of characters to entertain me and care for me and support me. Sometimes, especially when it feels obvious to me, not having a "friend group" makes me feel like a waste of space. If I don't have more friends than I can count, what's the point in trying to make friends at all?

I can tell you that there is a point. As a matter of fact, just because I don't have a close-knit clique doesn't mean I don't have any friends. The friends I have come from all different walks of life, some are from my town back home and some are from across the country. I've known some of my friends for years, and others I've only known for a few months. It doesn't really matter where they come from, though. What matters is that the friends I have all entertain me, care for me, and support me. Just because I'm not in that "friend group" with all of them together doesn't mean that we can't be friends to each other.

Still, I hate avoiding sticking myself in a box, and I'm not afraid to seek out friendships. I've noticed that a lot of the people I see who consider themselves to be in a "friend group" don't really venture outside the pack very often. I've never had a pack to venture outside of, so I don't mind reaching out to new people whenever.

I'm not going to lie, when I hear people talking about all the fun they're going to have with their "friend group" over the weekend, part of me wishes I could be included in something like that. I do sometimes want to have the personality type that allows me to mesh perfectly into a clique. I couldn't tell you what it is about me, but there is some part of me that just happens to function better one-on-one with people.

I hated it all my life up until very recently, and that's because I've finally learned that not having a "friend group" is never going to be the same as not having friends.

SEE ALSO: To The Girls Who Float Between Friend Groups

Cover Image Credit: wordpress.com

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