When a person attempts to keep abreast of what is going on in the world, it can be all too easy at times to become disheartened by politics, current events and (at this time of year) the blatant consumerism of the holiday season. This weekend I had the opportunity to visit Bridgeport UCC's
annual Mindful Gifts Bazaar and also organize and participate in a local Amnesty International's 2005 Global Write-a-Thon event.
There are people who tend to look at volunteerism as something one does to benefit others. The truth is that it benefits the volunteer as much as it does the cause. As Pollyanaish as it might sound, being around other people who are trying in their own small way to do and be good is inspiring. It reminds a person that no matter how much ugliness and selfishness one sees in the news and in popular culture, there is a significant amount of good in the world.
One of the great things about Mindful Gifts is that it concentrates about 30 non-profits that do a lot of good in our community into one building. Even if a person doesn't want to buy a Guatamalan poncho (or some really lovely photography, handmade soaps, pet supplies, jewelry, books, cds or donation certificates), it is a great places to find out about some of the organizations that work in our community.
For someone like myself, who is a nomadic volunteer in search of an opportunity, it provided a wealth of information on the types of agencies that are out there. As it turns out, there are some really great organizations in the Portland area (and beyond). Organizations that participated in Mindful Gifts included Living Earth, The Pangea Project, POPPA, Wild Cat Haven, and Cat Adoption Team among others including my current favorite Portland area 501(c)(3):
p:ear (program education art recreation), which is an organization that "builds positive relationships with homeless and transitional youth through education, art and recreation to affirm personal worth and create more meaningful and healthier lives." One of the really great things that p:ear does is to display the artistic achievements of program participants in the p:ear gallery at First Thursday in The Pearl.
In short, I am really glad that I got to go to the bazaar. It was second in my weekend only to my mother's dramatic debut as Mary in the Bridgeport Build Your Own Christmas Pageant. Watch out Marlene Dietrich, Citizen R is in town!