Voluntourisming

Last week I did something that off hand, isn’t going to sound like a scary thing: I volunteered with my job for 2 days with a great organization called Tourism Cares. We were all tasked with different jobs to help maintain, repair and preserve iconic sites all around the Los Angeles waterfront. The scary part though was not knowing what I was getting into. As a disabled person, I was scared if there would be stairs involved, how much walking there might be, would my assigned job be something I couldn’t do or really help with?

When I originally signed up to potentially be picked for this, I actually very uncharacteristically didn’t think much about the logistics or how physical it might be. The other big volunteer project my office does usually involves doing a lot of difficult manual labor, things I just couldn’t do, but this project had a lot of different options and one that seemed very do-able so I jumped at the chance. I was excited to step outside of my comfort zone. As the days went on though and the actual project date got closer, I started to get more and more stressed out. There were several instances where I wanted to just email and say I wasn’t going to be able to do it. But with the help of some encouragement from coworkers, I stuck with it and went. And you know what? It was one of the best experiences! It did involve a lot of walking (only a few stairs thankfully), I almost took out a veggie plate on our harbor cruise and I had to give myself some sitting breaks during our actual volunteer assignment but I made it! I loved the place I got to volunteer at (The Banning Museum. I highly suggest you check it out if you live in the SoCal area). I worked on a great team and at the end of the 2 days, I was sore and exhausted but I felt ecstatic for having conquered another fear and not backed down from something that was challenging and was outside of my comfort zone.

Like I’ve said before, there’s always going to be things I’m not going to be able to do in life but the more often I take chances like this. The more often I step outside my comfort zone and am able to make things I can do work, the better I’ll feel. I always feel 100% better after taking a chance with something than I do with not doing something because I’m scared. Even if the something I take a chance with doesn’t go perfectly all the way through, the feeling of accomplishment I get out of knowing I did something or of not using my disability as a reason for me not to do something is a feeling like no other.

Here’s some pictures from my volunteering adventure:

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One of the cool Victorian carriages we cleaned
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In my volunteering garb (complete with broom)
The Banning Museum where we volunteered
The Banning Museum where we volunteered
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One thought on “Voluntourisming

  1. I have discovered from a very young age, that accepting the word CAN’T serves us of the disabled community now good at all. I got to doctors who ask me why I go to a gym and a pool to aid in my rehabilitation. I respond: Isn’t that your job to inspire me to try, rather than just give up? I tell him and his staff then if that’s the way you all feel, I’m more inspired to try harder, because I’m going to come back and smack all of you across the chops for not doing your job 🙂

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