Well I haven’t really gotten around to putting my final thoughts on my year in Atlanta in one cohesive thought yet. I was way too emotional my last day in Atlanta to even consider it and as soon as I got home I had a day to try and pack a suitcase for vacation. Now I am getting ready to hit the road again to visit PA for a few days. I promise something will come soon but for now here are some pictures from my final days in Atlanta.
People meet friends in all different places. Some are just part of the revolving door of people through your life and some are there forever. Going into this year I thought I would make some new friends, mostly my roommates, but not at work. And I honesty never thought I would become friends with my 18 (now 19) year old counterpart at work. I can definitely say that this past year would have been way less fun without Josiah in it. These last two weeks in Atlanta will have less laughs and I won’t have anyone to push around on the chair carts at work. Josiah will be starting College in the fall and I am so excited to hear about it (and send him care packages obviously). I wish Jo Jo could just work with me at every job I have to make it fun no matter what the situation. I feel so blessed to have made a lifelong friend and can’t wait to see where life takes him. Also now I have a reason to visit Idaho!
Disclaimer: This is a really short post because I was all teary eyed writing it. Miss you Josiah!
When I was home on Memorial Day weekend I shared with my bush hill family about my year a little bit. I was extremely overwhelmed just with peoples well wishes and praises for the rest of my year, the added bonus is what I brought back to Atlanta with me (well technically my mama shipped back to Atlanta for me). 75 pounds of travel size toiletry items and over $900 was given that Sunday for the OAC. It was extremely overwhelming, but in a good way. Here are some pictures of the toiletries journey from getting sorted on the Huggins family dining room table to the bins on the front desk of the OAC. I can say these items have meade some people very happy and clean!
Also don’t forget to check out etsy.com/shop/mailablehuggs for some greeting cards!
So fundraising is something I have definitely learned about and heard about this year. I had to do it in order to come to Atlanta (thanks to many of you that read this blog I accomplished this goal) and the non-profit world is fueled by fundraising and donors. At work we just recently had a fundraiser and I would say it was a success. Everyone looked to be really enjoying themselves and the room was pretty full (I had to weave my way to the food table for some pimento cheese and crackers).
I have heard so many (and participated in) discussions of ways to fundraiser better. Also I have learned that the success of a fundraiser isn’t defined by how much cash you bring in necessarily. This is a pretty big lesson I have learned this year. Sure you can bring in thousands but did anyone learn anything about your organization or get invested enough to give regularly?! Just some thoughts to ponder.
So now I am attempting to do my own mini fundraiser. I make my own greeting cards and mail them to family and friends. Snail mail is probably one of the things that will without fault bring a smile to my face. I love sending it and receiving it! I am pretty sure Taylor will have a whole drawer full of cards by the time this long-distance nonsense is over. I also recently received a MASSIVE donation of card making supplies by one of my mom’s co-workers when she heard I enjoyed making cards and was considering selling them.
Sooooo with all that being said mailablehuggs was born!! The proceeds of the sales from the cards in the shop will be given to the OAC. Stop on by https://www.etsy.com/shop/mailablehuggs to check some cards out and maybe even purchase a few.
If you have spent more than a few hours with me you should know this fact about me. I cry at the drop of a hat, when I am laughing, stressed, sad, angry, hungry, tired (tired and hungry is a deadly combination), watching a movie (yes, I cry during 90% of the movies I watch), reading (certain books should come with a warning to not read in public), the list could go on and on.
Well today a first happened in my crying world, I cried at work.
Yes, it was extremely embarrassing and yes we were open and I was working with a guest. After asking my boss if she would have cried in said situation she said yes as well, so I don’t feel as ashamed.
Today on our appointment sheet there was a need of calling the Georgia Crisis and Access Line. This is a 1-800 number for those wanting help with mental illness, developmental disabilities, or addiction issues. This specific guest today wanted to start her road to recovery from alcohol and drug abuse. I was extremely nervous about the task seeing I panic in these intense situations (I learned earlier this month if someone is having a seizure you do not want me in the room, hello panic attack!). I have also learned I never know how to respond to people who share their sob stories. My response is usually along the lines of, “I’m sorry”, “Stay strong”, “or “It’s ok” (I am ashamed to admit I use Juan Pablo’s favorite response when people are in crisis mode).
So here went nothing we get to my desk, I dial the 1-800 number and promptly pass the phone to the guest. I have learned this is something I do fairly well, enabling our guests to take action and try to figure things out on their own rather than me do everything for them. We started off ok, then she started sobbing quickly passing the phone back to me. I answered some of the questions (which are pretty intense, and not knowing the ‘street ‘ names of drugs or quantities I struggled a little) before she calmed back down and I asked her if she would like to answer the questions. She did pretty well for the rest of the original phone call with only a few tears running down her face. After half a box of tissues and what seemed like 100 questions later we played the waiting game for 30 minutes before calling back hoping for an answer.
We were then told it would be another hour before she could find out if there were any openings at detox facilities in the area. This is when the water works started. I could tell she was getting upset, she was finally ready to change her life style after 15+ years of drug and alcohol abuse and here she was being told their might not be a spot for her anywhere. Another large sum of tissues later, a monologue by me of how she was doing something braver than I would ever do in my life, a few hugs, one or two high fives, and a few laughs (yes a woman after my on heart, she was checking herself out in the mirror to make sure she wasn’t ugly crying and that her hair looked good) my phone rang. It was an intake counselor from a treatment and detox center in Atlanta, she was in! We got all the details, promptly printed out the map, and got the Marta card ready! We did a little more crying and hugging and then she was on her way with some hope in her eyes and holding her head a little higher. She was proud that she had taken the first step to change her life! And I was pretty darn proud too!
We get a lot of guests that struggle with addiction issues in the center, few that talk about changing their habits, and a handful that are truly serious about it and ask for guidance. I am grateful that I had this experience today. It has given me a new perspective on those who choose to ask for help and answer 100 humiliating questions to a stranger. And in this situation ask a total stranger to help with that phone call. That is an extremely vulnerable position to be in.
As I go to sleep tonight I will definitely be thinking and praying for this woman and all those I know and even don’t know who suffer from addiction issues. I ask you to pray for this guest and all those that suffer as well.
So I don’t know if you remember those cards from the last post but I have been doing a lot of thinking about them. I just got 3 boxes of card making stuff given to me by one of my mom’s co-workers. It was like Christmas this past Saturday afternoon! I plan on making some cards to donate at our next OAC fundraiser that they can sell.
What I really want to do though is figure out how to get people back home (most of y’all that read this) a chance to buy some cards and have the money donated to the OAC. I also have been wanting to do my own mini “fundraiser” since my capacity to give financially to the OAC this year is limited. I am currently brainstorming the best way to get my cards online somewhere for people to look at and purchase and then have them shipped to them. As of right now I am thinking an Etsy shop. My other option is to just have a blog post with all of the pictures and then the instructions on how to order and pay via paypal. If anyone has any thoughts or ideas let me know. Obviously for these cards 100% of the profit would go to the OAC , either in the form of a monetary donation or as goods that are really needed (aka feminine hygiene items!!).
Be on the lookout in the next week or so about information on how to purchase some of these cards! And if you think this is a bad idea, maybe you should send snail mail more often!
So the weather in Atlanta is just beautiful today! This post is actually coming at you from my front porch complete with some Mickey Mouse gummies from my trip to Disney World last month. Don’t get me wrong though, there have been some pretty nasty days lately (including but not limited to: rain, wind, and chilly temps). I am SOOOOO ready for the weather to be hot, hot, hot! To be able to sit outside at restaurants, enjoy runs and walks more than the gym, and have an excuse for eating too much ice cream.
Since the last post I have been thinking way more about what is next. I have actually drafted a resume (this is big people), realized I will probably have either a full time job or two part time jobs (I was really hoping I would never have to work full time again, that dream has gone down the drain rather fast), and have conducted an online job search. It wasn’t a really serious one, but more of a look to see what is out there. I am most likely going to return to Alexandria when my year is over, don’t hold me to it though. If anyone has any comments of what they think I would be good at doing in August/September let me know. As of right now my thoughts of what I want to do job wise are ALL OVER THE PLACE. No really, one day I am searching in one kind of field and the next day I am considering something totally different. I have been having a really hard time putting what my skills and qualifications are down on paper.
So now a couple pictures to make things a little more interesting.
These little fur balls of adorableness have visited the OAC twice! I should also probably give photocred to Kimberly, our executive director, on this one. I was too focused on how cute they are to take a picture. Puppies are probably my biggest weakness. I just wanted to scoop all of them up and take them home with me. (Don’t tell my parents but I actually looked up the prices of puppy vaccines today…Whoops!) One of our guests is trying to sell these cute little guys (don’t worry mom, I would never pay him for one). I hope they make another visit again soon so I play with them again!
The other new thing (well sort of) I have ben working on is handmade cards. I have been stamping cards since I got to Atlanta that I send to my family and friends, what is new is that I am gearing up to make a whole lot of them. The OAC is having an art show fundraiser in 6 weeks. Our development coordinator planning who is planning the event asked me if I was artsy and could contribute anything to the show. I quickly laughed and walked away. The next day I realized I am not artsy, but pretty crafty. So I told her I would love to make some cards to sell. I also warned her my mom is the biggest fan of them so if she thought they were haneous I would understand. She surprisingly thought the opposite and quickly asked me to make a card for her since she had a friend she wanted to send one too. That’s where these came from. I made two because I didn’t like the first one. She ended up buying both (after I refused her money several times)! My sister thinks I should open an etsy shop but we will see what happens. For right now I am going to keep making them for myself and a lot to donate to sell at the art show fundraiser.
That’s all for now. I hope everyone enjoys the first day of spring!
So my year in Atlanta is over halfway done! It is crazy to think about. Part of me feels like I have been here forever and another part feels like I just moved in 3 days ago.
Sorry for the lack of posting for the last month. I will fill you in on what you missed. The first couple weeks of February were spent just hanging out in Atlanta, I also had a surge of babysitting jobs those first two weeks. Then I went to Blacksburg for Valentine’s Day weekend, which kind of turned into 6 days. There were snow storms expected all along the east coast so I scooted out of Atlanta Tuesday afternoon. I missed the second Atlanta winter madness this year but I got to experience Blacksburg’s snowpocalypse. There was 2 feet of snow on the ground when I woke up Thursday morning. It was a great week(end) spent with friends and eating at some of my favorite Blacksburg bars (in my defense they were all that was open in 2 feet of snow).
The next weekend I was off to my FAVORITE place in the entire world…DISNEY WORLD!!! I have really downplayed my love of disney here in Atlanta, don’t want my roommates and co-workers to think I am strange. (For exmaple I didn’t bring my Disney Dooney with me. While packing though I deeply regret it.) I met up with my mom and cousin at the airport on Thursday and the next day with the other 8 friends there. 5 of the 11 were there to get our run on that Sunday morning at the Disney Princess half marathon. I ran really slow so my time will not be advertised, but I am so proud of myself for doing it. Some of the other runners in our group were way faster than me (like the 189th finisher out of 20,000) so I am sure they will share their times if you ask. It was a super fun weekend that left me exhausted (hello 5:30 am start time on Sunday) and 10 lbs heavier (despite running 13.1 miles and walking all over creation we ate A LOT). Madison, my cousin, and I agreed we needed to go back for a week next time and not run. It would be way more relaxing and we would actually get to see everything we wanted to.
This past weekend was spent sleeping in (my favorite Saturday activity), reading magazines, and enjoying Sunday’s beautiful weather. Also Sunday was youth Sunday at Central. Youth Sunday is always one of my favorites. It is so refreshing to see how the youth the youth of the church interpret their faith.
I promise to try harder to post more often. Let’s go with a goal of once every 10 days. I am still trying to decide what to give up for lent (I know so last minute Ash Wednesday isn’t 3 hours away or anything) so my next post might be all about that. Who knows though, maybe my brain will take me in another direction. That’s all from the mind of Rhuggins this evening.
So I am sure many of you have seen the disaster of Atlanta yesterday and today on the news. There is maybe 2 inches of snow, not that big of a deal to most, and it is utter chaos. Luckily I only live 1.5 miles from work and I don’t have to get on the highways to get there but it still took me some time to get home yesterday. I woke up this morning to a sheet of ice as our street. I turned on the news and saw the reports of children who spent the night at school, the still stopped traffic in some areas and the local officials giving their commentary. Bottom line, this city was not prepared. I wonder if the streets near us will ever get touched with a salt truck or plow or if we will just have to wait out for the warm weather tomorrow to melt it all.
So with the holidays and the extremely chilly weather our storage space at work has been exploding with donations. There are toiletry bags, mats, socks, gloves, hats, scarves, and more blankets than I have never seen in my life. It is great that people are donating stuff but have they really taken the time to see what is really necessary.
These past few days our donation bin has been overflowing with blankets a few times I dread having to unload it because there is no where for the blankets to go. Finally I learned that taking up to the shelter and not into our space was the solution.
There are also times when we are on the other end of this spectrum. The food pantry walls are bare, there is no drawing paper for art class and we are lucky if there is one bar of soap.
So why these ebbs and flows? I think the cold weather has people feeling guilty that they have a warm place to go and others may not.
So next time you decide to give to an organization really look at the needs if they are sent out. If you don’t know what to give contact the organization and ask. Maybe it’s money, maybe it’s canned vegetables, maybe it’s new socks. I just am strongly recommending doing your research before dumping stuff on an organization.
Thank you for contributing to organizations! It is really cool to see the impact people’s donations are making where I work every day!