My view of the world is much different today than it was almost a year ago. Week after week, volunteer experiences have opened my eyes to social issues in our society, organizations that serve people, and the emotions that are intertwined within it all. I have also been exposed to inspiring individuals, community collaboration, and creative minds. I have been introduced to non-profit organizations that I did not know existed. I have realized that my commitment to giving is truly a commitment to my self-development. Each week I learn. Each week I grow.
This week I had the opportunity to volunteer with an organization I did not know much about. An organization that has been serving our community for more than thirty years through dance, multi-cultural arts, and outreach programs. It is an organization that eloquently describes itself much better than I ever could. I wanted to share this excerpt from the program of a recent performance:
“Founded in 1979, the Fort Wayne Dance Collective provides people of all ages and abilities a respectful environment to learn, collaborate and perform using movement, rhythm, and language. We provide an environment where new ideas can be tested and old ones honored, where pride is seen through the diversity, which exists in age, skill and experience, and where the first priorities are the nurturing of self-expression, the cultivation of integrated strength and the desire to create.” – Fort Wayne Dance Collective
I will be the first to admit that I know very little about dance. Everyone who knows me will tell you that I cannot dance. Other than the Safety Dance and the Worm, this is a true statement. I have not been exposed much to the art of dance. The girls have been involved in gymnastics and other sports, not dance. This week was a new experience in more than one way. MaKenna and I started the volunteer experience by spending some time working in the box office selling tickets for the RUBBERBANDance Group performance. Unfortunately, we didn’t sell too many tickets during our time. Many people had already bought tickets or planned to buy them at the door. We were working the shift 4 hours prior to the doors opening. Regardless of the lack of ticket sales, we enjoyed this time in the box office. We worked with another volunteer who had a deep passion for the Fort Wayne Dance Collective. She had been volunteering with them for many years. I experienced one of my proudest moments as a father during one of our conversations. MaKenna introduced Impact 52 and led the discussion about what it meant to her. She talked about how serving others makes her feel and that she loves helping people. She spoke about advocating for volunteerism and the passion to get her classmates more involved. I realized the impact our project is having on her in this moment. A shy girl is growing into a confident young women willing to lead and inspire. I was inspired by her words and her actions.
After volunteering in the box office we had the opportunity to watch the RUBBERBANDance Group performance. I was not sure what to expect as we settled down into our seats. I was hoping that I would not be bored and regret the decision to attend. The RUBBERBANDance Group never gave me a chance to get bored. The performance was filled with precise movements and speed. A story was told without a single word being spoken. It was an unbelievable performance that MaKenna and I enjoyed very much. My first dance performance, but not my last. Once again, my eyes were opened to something new due to volunteerism.
After the performance, I volunteered to help strike the floor. By strike I mean tear it up. When I originally told my daughter I had volunteered to tear up the dance floor, she said, “they asked you to dance?” That was hilarious. I had to inform her that I was literally tearing up the floor. I helped remove and roll up the rubber dance floor. I removed lighting, extension cords, and speakers and stored them back stage. Striking the floor gave me a chance to see the happenings of backstage production. It was a visual that I, like many, have never seen. The work was not difficult. It was a quick and easy way to help a great organization.
This week, I was reminded once again about the importance of opening your eyes and ears to something new. There are things happening around you in this world that you are missing. These happenings are uplifting events that positively impact you and those around you. Step outside your comfort zone and you will reap the rewards. I know that I have. The Fort Wayne Dance Collective has been impacting our community for years and I am thankful I had the opportunity to learn about and serve with them. Visit www.fwdc.org to learn more about the programs and outreach programs they provide.