Before I tell you about the organization I have been involved with for many years, I want to first share my #GivingTuesday experience. It was a bit spontaneous, but I decided to give a little bit to a number of smaller, local groups, throughout the day. A number of my friends have devoted themselves to a range of causes and, in addition to a donation, I put in a plug on Facebook for the volunteering they do. Some work to empower women through the fight for reproductive justice while another friend started Swing for Kids as a way to introduce kids to swing dancing. Even though they eventually kicked me out, I wouldn't be who I am or where I am today without the experiences provided to me by the Illinois State University Honors Program. Felines and Canines is a small, local, animal rescue that saved our dog Grace from a kill shelter in Kentucky. An extra donation could be enough to help them rescue just one more lucky kitty or pooch so they too can be spoiled rotten. My friend Bobby is always promoting CHIRP, a local non-profit radio station where he DJs. Helping them build an actual radio antenna is pretty neat. I ended the day with a donation to my neighborhood food pantry. Common Pantry is the oldest continuously operating food pantry in Chicago. They're certainly not going to turn away canned good donations, but they can always do more with cash.
While I regularly promote the organizations I volunteer with, it was nice to focus on some great organizations my friends are just as passionate about. Thank you to #GivingTuesday for planting a seed for a very fulfilling idea!
Every two weeks I visit the hospital. Not because I'm sick, but because sick kids need a bit of magic. A little moment in their day that empowers them to get through treatments, operations, and procedures they have no control over. That's exactly what Open Heart Magic delivers. For six years I've been a volunteer hospital magician. Over that time, I've performed magic for hundreds of kids in four Chicago hospitals, and the opportunity to do so repeatedly provides some of the most memorable experiences of my life. Being given the privilege to perform for a child and their family during some of their most vulnerable moments is extremely humbling, and not something I take for granted.
I can't share many of the details of those experiences with you for privacy reasons, but I can share with you my experience with Magic U, our intense 12-week course for all volunteer candidates. I remember stressing out far more for the final evaluation than my full time job, or my grad school exams that were happening that same week. As a trainer in Magic U for many years now, I've heard similar comments from almost every new volunteer. In the most recent session, ending just a couple weeks ago, I even heard of some people planning weekend study sessions. The bar is certainly high, and not everyone makes it through, but we can be confident that those that do make it are going to do an amazing job empowering kids when they need it the most. I'm so honored to volunteer side by side with them and take part in the important mission of Open Heart Magic.
Review from #MyGivingStory