When I started this project I was terrified. When was I going to find the time to orchestrate a Women’s Health Expo or plan a Pride Parade on campus? That was my perception of what it meant to be an activist. I work full time, sometimes two jobs along with being a full time student. Luckily early on in the semester were were required to read Grassroots. It was within this book that I learned that activism starts when you realize where you are and the resources you have available to you. The authors also wrote about not taking on more than you can handle, to avoid getting burnt out. Initially, I looked into projects on campus that were already established and seeking volunteers. After a couple weeks of correspondence with the woman in charge of Vagina Monologues, I learned that I had too many schedule conflicts to participate. As the semester went on I became more nervous about finding an activist project. I went to meet with Dr. Kate to explain my situation and potentially get ideas. Dr. Kate offered a brilliant solution, trying to find time for activism with such a hectic schedule was my project! I mean really, this woman is brilliant. So, I began my search. I continued to email different groups such as Elect Her and the Pay Equity Bake sale but ran into the same scheduling conflicts. Finally, I found the YWCA in Arnold. I applied on their website to be a volunteer. I was quickly contacted to attend their information session on the organization and volunteer opportunities. They have a women’s and children domestic abuse shelter called the Arden House. They have volunteers come into the house and help the women. They have small groups ranging from gardening to resume building. I proposed to create my own small group on self care initially. This is where I met some delays. The application process included a background check that took almost two months to get back. In the meantime, I gathered donated supplies to bring with me to the house. I prepared for the option that they may not let me hold my own small group to begin with. This ended up being the case and the group outline that I came up with bordered therapy a little too much for the comfort of the Program Director. I was slightly disappointed because I spent a lot of time researching and gathering supplies for my group. I had to remember that volunteering and being an activist was not about my needs. Luckily, my mom had been generous enough to donate a ton of seeds, plants and gardening tools. I compromised with myself and have coordinated with the volunteer that does the gardening group. She is holding her next gardening class at the shelter on June 4th. I am still working with the Program Director to tweak my own ideas of self care to make sure I do not potentially enter in a situation with a resident that could be dangerous for both of us. I firmly believe in the importance of self care and have developed skills to grow and maintain a healthy self esteem that I believe could be of great importance to these women. I consider my project a great success as I have learned about the obstacles that come with activism. I have learned to compromise and be patient as I am not the only person with scheduling constraints. All in all this has been an awesome experience so far and I can not wait to see all that will come of it.
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