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Paws Down

Who would have thought that my slobbery, four-pawed, velvet-eared, 95-pound canine would have more friends than me? The truth is, Tucker, my six-year-old golden retriever, is on the brink of becoming a full blown local celebrity. And he knows it – I can tell by the way he struts in his therapy vest.

Of course he is not a one-dog show: Donna Jones, my mom, assumes the role of his agent, bringing him to a local nursing home every Wednesday. This dynamic duo will soon begin making regular visits to A Woman’s Place (AWP) as well, perfect timing for National Volunteer Month.

Each April, National Volunteer Month takes place. It is a testament to the countless steadfast, selfless, and hard-working people (or in Tucker’s case, dogs) who advocate for change in their communities. These weeks are dedicated to honor volunteers, as well as to kick-start new opportunities for serving others. Part of AWP’s mission is to serve creatively, coming up with “meaningful new ideas, interpretations, and rules.” Volunteering can take many different forms, and these can be personalized based on individual interests.

As mom says, “The smallest kindness can bring the greatest joy. Listen to that inner voice and then act upon it by finding your passion and your niche in serving others. Within the scope of A Woman’s Place, the volunteer opportunities are as varied as the birds returning from their winter’s hiatus. I had no idea how many services and programs were offered here.”

There is something for every volunteer at AWP, even Tucker fits right in! It is simply a matter of identifying one’s “passions” and letting them be the guide for serving others.

If one of your passions is eating delicious sushi, the Ooka AWP Roll Fundraiser will satisfy your cravings and help others at the same time! This event kicks off on Wednesday, April 1, from 5:00 to 10:00 p.m., and will last the entire month long. Ooka has created a $15.00 customized roll with all proceeds benefitting AWP. Each time I return home from college, this restaurant is one of my top places to dine. Tucker especially likes it when I sneak him some leftovers. As a canine socialite, it only makes sense that he would have such a refined pallet and decadent taste in food.

As the warmth returns, many of you may also develop a hunger for spring cleaning. I know my dorm room could use some sprucing. In Full Swing, a local thrift store whose proceeds benefit AWP, accepts gently-used items for men, women, and children. I have personally purchased a pair of vintage Reebok leggings at In Full Swing that channel my inner ‘80s aerobics instructor diva. I also bought a pair of jeans that are lost in my mounting pile of laundry – I better get to that spring cleaning sooner than later!

Before I attempt to tackle my overflowing hamper, I will leave you all with some wise words from my mom, Donna, who speaks to the value of volunteering, words that resonate powerfully during this month when we appreciate the act of selflessly giving for the betterment of others: “There are two absolutes that I think we can all agree with: there are 24 hours in a day and tomorrow is not guaranteed.  Each day is an opportunity to reach out to others, to share our gifts and to step outside ourselves in a meaningful way.”

No matter the way you may go about serving, AWP encourages and commends you to continue pursuing such purposeful work. As Tucker would say, “Volunteers are my favorite, paws down!”

Hannah Jones
Student, James Madison University

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