Journeys From Prison to Productivity

For me, beautiful fall Saturday mornings are meant for open air markets, bike rides and hikes. For Abed Commey, 55, they mean teaching computer skills to female ex-offenders at Friends of Guest House. FOGH is a nonprofit that helps women transition from incarceration back into the community by giving them temporary housing, vocational training, counseling and long-term support. >> Find Volunteer Opportunities at Create the Good This particular Saturday, I decide to see things Commey’s way. We join an eclectic …

‘Drumbeat of Activism’ Still Permeates Our Communities

They called it Freedom Summer – 10 weeks in 1964 when more than 700 student volunteers from around the country joined organizers and local activists in a historic effort to end the vestiges of racial oppression across the South, including what PBS described as “one of the nation’s most viciously racist, segregated states.” That state was Mississippi. And before it was over, three men – James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner – were viciously beaten and killed by the …

Guardian Angels: Volunteering to Make an Impact

Nobody knew much about Roger. His niece had dropped him off at the nursing home one day, saying there was a family emergency. Could they keep him overnight? Days passed, and then weeks. Some thought that Roger’s niece had been pocketing his Social Security checks, and when authorities started catching on, she bolted. Whatever the reason, she never came back. Enter Mark Desmond, Roger’s volunteer guardian. Mark, a newly retired sales manager, was determined to find out all he could about Roger, …

Hug Your Parents, and 7 Other Lessons for New Grads

The day after graduation at Miami University in Ohio, I took a run through campus. Barricades blocked paths, and white party tents waited to be disassembled. Ikea shelves and desks and deck chairs lined curbs. Kids snapped last-minute photos, while moms and dads carried storage bins and hitched U-Haul trailers to the backs of SUVs. It had been a while since I’d seen this scene – about 10 years. I graduated from college in 2005 and, after a short stint …

Talking (and Listening) to People With Dementia

I talk with my friend Arthur twice a week, and each conversation starts the same way. “Hi Arthur, it’s Laura.” “Laura, dawling. Whe-ah are you?” “I’m in Ohio.” “You’re still the-ah?” It’s been almost 10 months since my boyfriend, Joe, and I left New York. “Yep, still here! Grad school is going really well, and it’s great to be close to family. It’s hard being far from friends, though. I wish we were tasting olives together right now.” >> Sign up …

The Power of Pause: Taking Time to Visit Seniors

I’ll admit it: I love a good to-do list. When I’ve got a lot on my plate, or even when I don’t, there’s something so satisfying about crossing things off as I go. But my latest project has been a lesson in letting go of the list. As part of my grad school assistantship, I’m administering cognitive tests to older adults at a care facility near campus. When my adviser, Kate, told me about it, I was excited to jump …