Tag Archive | volunteer

Costa Rica Oct. 2016 Part 2-Panama

Hello!  My husband and I recently vacationed in Panama.  It was our first trip to this beautiful country.  We stayed on Isla Bastimentos, which is part of Bocos Del Toro, Panama.  We stayed for three days. The weather was perfect.  It was low season so it wasn’t crowded at all. It rained at night a few times, but didn’t affect any of our activities.

Our accommodations were way cool, as we stayed in a bed and breakfast over the ocean.   The Sea Monkey has two cabins, of which we were upgraded to the larger cabin. The cabin had sliding glass doors on the front that opened up to our own private deck.  The king size bed was the most comfortable bed I have ever slept on vacation.  I need a bed like this at home. The cabin was rustic, but had everything we needed.  Breakfast was delivered to our cabin each morning, as the restaurant was being renovated.

We were at the south end of Old Bank, a town with no roads, just a cement path through town.  The locals were very nice, and language was not an issue.  Panama uses the American dollar, so that was very helpful.

Bocos Del Toro consists of many smaller islands on the Western Caribbean.  Water taxis are the mode of transportation between islands. The fare is only $3 during the day and $5 at night.  We found Panama to be a very inexpensive place to visit.  The food was delicious and the beers were cheap and ice cold.

We did a day tour through   Bastimentos Alive to go snorkeling, visit Frog Beach and hike through the jungle. Our guide Cristo was great and a lot of fun. We made several stops and saw lots of cool stuff. The cost for each of us was only $40 for the entire day of boating.  We stayed on Bastimentos for the entire visit.  There were plenty of restaurants to choose from, and we easily walked through town.

On our last day we did something very unusual.  We volunteered at an indigenous school for the Ngobe tribe for preschoolers.  This tribe has been in Panama since the time of Columbus.  We took a boat and picked up about ten little kids and took them to their school.  We helped the teacher out for the morning, reading to the kids and playing games. It cost us $20 each, and lunch was included.  An American created this school for the local children to attend.  It’s a nonprofit called Give and Surf.org.  It was a very humbling experience.  Although we don’t speak Spanish, we had a delightful time with these children.

We absolutely loved Panama, and will coming back. Lots going on at the Sea Monkey check them out Sea Monkey


Making a difference this Mother’s Day with Ipsy and Ulta

I had a lovely Mother’s day this year.  My husband took me out to dinner and gave me some great gifts. While I am most fortunate to have a wonderful husband and son, many moms are not.  We have a women’s shelter in the town I live in, and I knew I wanted to do something for them for Mother’s day.  I went on their website and looked at a wish list.  Lo and behold one of the wish list items is cosmetic bags.  I’m an Ipsy subscriber and have a ton of cosmetic bags, as I get a new one every month.  I didn’t have a huge inventory of them because I just sent a bunch to my teenage niece.

My husband gave me an Ulta gift card for Mother’s Day.  Well Ulta is my favorite store, and I needed some moisturizer, so off I went today.  I spoke with the manager and asked if they had any make up bags they could donate.  She said unfortunately that they only donate at the corporate level, but she did give me some perfume samples for the moms.  We got to talking and she said she has a ton of cosmetic bags herself and would gladly donate them to the shelter.  I gave her the wish list and she said she was going to ask her staff if they had any items to donate. She said just working at Ulta the salespeople get a ton of stuff. This is one of the reasonsMother's Day flowers 5-10-15 I love Ulta so much.  I used my gift card to buy some bath gel for all twelve of the ladies currently at the shelter.

I made a stop at Dollar Tree and bought 12 picture frames also.  Each cosmetic bag was different and had bath gel, a perfume sample and a small picture frame.  I also bought four dozen cookies from the bakery and some fruit punch so they could have a little party. I wrote a note of encouragement and wished them all well. I know it may sound like I’m bragging, but I only wanted to get this message out to anyone who likes to help others.  These are the lovely flowers my husband got for me at the farmer’s market.



Why I volunteer- and you should too!

Have you ever helped others without expecting something in return?  I’ve been doing some sort of volunteer work for the past thirty years.  I’ve had some very different experiences doing this work, some better than others.  For the past 4 ½ years I’ve been visiting an elderly gentleman in his home.   Every Sunday afternoon I go and visit my friend.  While he’s only ten years older than me, he has many health issues that have greatly affected his life.  John had big plans for his retirement years. One of which was sailing his boat on Lake Michigan.  He had to sell his boat, and can hardly walk now.  His wife was a school teacher and John was a psychotherapist working with veterans with PTSD or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  He himself is a Vietnam veteran and suffers from PTSD as well.

We have many common interests, and share the same political views.  In the past he worked at the local main post office in human resources, but retired after a postal shooting.  Both of my parents are deceased, and I have grown quite fond of John and his wife.  When I come to visit his wife runs errands.  We have talked about so many things over the years.  He has even invited me and my family to come and visit at their summer home in New Mexico.

Just recently I started volunteering for a local organization that teaches financial literacy to high school students. It’s a six class program that runs over a three month period.  I was truly amazed how little high school juniors know about finances.  I’m an accountant and like to share my knowledge.  The kids really seemed to enjoy the classes, and so did I.  I think I may have missed my calling, as I love teaching.

I was cleaning my home office recently and came across my id for when I was a volunteer at the Veterans Administration in 1993.  This was not one of my better volunteering experiences. My goal was to cheer up our veterans. It devolved into me feeding patients and doing nursing assistant type of work.  That quickly ended.  I also volunteered for the Girl Scouts working at an activity center. This was ironic as I don’t have a daughter. The first few functions went well, but when the visiting troop leaders sat around and did nothing while I was busting my butt, that was time for me to go.

I volunteered for a Big Brothers/Big sister’s type of an organization when I lived in Chicago.  I was paired with a 14 year old girl who was getting into a lot of trouble at home and school.  That was a very rewarding experience.  Unfortunately the girl was sent to juvenile hall, and I never saw her again.

When I moved to Wisconsin I joined the local Jaycees.  I organized one event at our local zoo.  The weather that day was crappy, so we didn’t have a big turnout.  On the plus side I was able to donate the food to a local homeless shelter. I found out when you have an event like that, you can donate the leftover food to a shelter and they will pick it up.  I called several local TV stations to try and get the message out, but no one was interested, which was quite sad.  Think of how many catered events you attend where they have leftover food. What a shame.

My newest volunteer opportunity is being involved in a yearlong medical study for osteoporosis.  My mother suffered with the disease and shrunk four inches in a few years.  If I can help just one person from getting this awful disease, then I will have accomplished my goal.

volunteer 3-14-15Have you every volunteered?  If you have, please share your experiences below.


Holiday Tips for Job Seekers

I just read an article on job hunting in December.  The article said how December is a great time to look for a new job.  I was surprised by this information; as I always thought the end of the year was a bad time to look for a new job.  Here is what I gleaned from the article.

  1. Many companies are finalizing their budgets for the upcoming year, and will be adding staff. Now is a good time to get your resume in front of a hiring manager for the New Year.  Most companies work on a calendar year basis, as opposed to a fiscal year.
  2. Get out and socialize. Parties, industry events and gatherings provide a great opportunity to mix and mingle with potential employers.
  3. Your completion level drops off in December. Most job seekers don’t want to bother with their job search during the holidays.  You will more likely get noticed when the competition thins out.
  4. Reconnect with old contacts. I have a list of recruiters who I have dealt with in the past.  I have shared this list with many others, and suggest they reconnect with them now.  In my opinion, during a job search you can never have too many recruiters working for you.  You have to take the initiative, and call them regularly.  New opportunities come in all the time, and now is a great time to let them know you are in the market for a new job.

Here are several of my own suggestions for a successful job search.

Reach out to former employers.  I recently read that nearly 50% of jobs are found through networking.  Be actively engaged on LinkedIn.  If you are interested in working for a particular company, sign up on their website for job opening notifications.

In mid-2013, I found out my position was being eliminated.  I was bummed out because this was my dream job.  The employer asked me to stay on for two months to help out with the transition.  I was happy to oblige.  During those two months I sent out LinkedIn invitations to every one of my co-workers who were on LinkedIn.  I also asked if any of my current co-workers knew of any employers looking for people.  I got very positive feedback, and doubled the amount of my LinkedIn connections.  I also asked people to endorse my skills.  Some of these wonderful folks wrote nice recommendations for me.   We live in a digital age, and having a good LinkedIn profile is crucial.

If you are currently unemployed, do volunteer work.  Having large gaps on your resume will hurt you.  You will be helping others in your community, and this may lead to potential jobs.  I work full time and volunteer with two local organizations.  I visit with an elderly gentleman every week, and teach financial literacy to high school students.   Being unemployed can be depressing, helping others makes you feel good.

Last but not least, try and help others who are looking for work if you can.  If you see that one of your LinkedIn connections knows a person at a company you are interested in, ask for an introduction.

Sitting on the couch eating Christmas cookies and drinking eggnog is great during the holidays, but don’t let that be the only thing you do.