14 July, 2006

Trying to Volunteer, Update

You are reading the words of someone who is now an official USO volunteer at the local airport! I'm also going to try to do some hospital volunteering at Pendleton through NMCRS, but I'm so glad to finally have found a way to do some hands-on support work (next Friday will be my first day).

I thought I liked the USO director from the moment I spoke to him on the phone, and I was sure I did after meeting him. He and the volunteer director are both retired Navy, and were impressive in an accessible and down-to-earth way. I could see the director silently evaluating me as we talked... considering what his gut was telling him. It made me nervous, but I was impressed with the director's warmth and kindness and so I had confidence he would recognize my pure intentions to simply find a way to serve those who serve us.

Frankly I think I charmed the socks off both of them, haha! The director mistook me for 10 years younger (of course) and at the end of the interview after asking offhandedly if I had kids or was married, teased me about the "many handsome and virile young men" I would be meeting. I interrupted and laughingly exclaimed, "Oh, yes! And most of them will be about 15 years younger than me!" He paused and then cracked up, saying, "Oh, I'm sure we can find a couple older ones for you..." When he noticed I was turning a little pink he exclaimed with a triumphant laugh, "Oh look, we made her blush! We made her blush!" Though I knew he was just teasing, I didn't deny it and instead stuck out my chin with pugnacious playfulness, "Don't think you've done anything special. Most of my male friends can make me blush at the drop of a hat." Which made my cheeks even more heated of course, and just increased the laughter. After he finally stopped laughing, the director offered me an appraising glance and said warmly, "I think you're going to fit in very well here."

Let's hope he's right. I liked every employee/volunteer I met, and they all seemed to "feel right" on the intuitive level I have that usually pegs people. It all had a great "feel" to it. The only drawback is that it's a pretty long trip for me to get there, with freeways almost the entire way. So, I'm probably only going to do it once or twice a week (fortunately Pendleton is much closer).

But it feels really, really good to finally be doing something like this. The support-the-troops stuff I've done via email, care packages and blogging, etc., has been very satisfying, but I'm more a people person: this is exactly the kind of thing I've wanted to do for years.

All-in-all it was also a good self-esteem boost, which I've sorely needed lately...