SUMMER VOLUNTEERING, MOVING DIFFERENCE, AND CLAUDIA.

My green-eyed baby, Claudia.

A few weeks ago, I got a passionate and heartfelt email from a girl named Jeny (that’s one “n”), about her plan to start a movement. See, Jeny wanted to encourage everybody to get out and volunteer. To turn off their computer, get out into their community, and help the needy. The elderly. The children. The parks. Her goal was to generate enough interest among all of us so that by the end, we collectively would have performed 1,000 hours of service. Jeny’s an Austinite, but her vision wasn’t necessarily limited to the city. Because at the end, we would all — wherever we were — watch the sunset together on the last official night of summer, September 21.

“That’s sweet,” I thought. “Too bad I’m so busy!

I actually really hate it when I blame anything on busyness, since it’s often thinly-veiled bragging. “Brunch? Oooh sorry I can’t spend time with you … I’m so busy working on a project of my own invention!”  Uh, gross. I have a very “doing” personality, but right now, I’m working on doing less so I can just hang out and enjoy life/good people more. If you see me Tweeting tipsily from a hammock, you’ll know I’ve been successful.

Anyway, after Jeny emailed, I actually managed to shush that “BUSY!” voice, and Googled Austin Humane Society. Wouldn’t you know it: It was just down the street from my house.

So I wrote Jeny back, and said, “guess what! Austin Humane Society is nearby, and I’m going to go volunteer with kitties. I will join your movement!”

(Or more accurately, I will join your movement after receiving proper training.  My orientation session is this Saturday morning. I’m training to be a “cat socializer” or some such; little does the Humane Society know that I am already an expert on socializing, and dressing, cats.)

Since Jeny wrote me a few weeks ago, her movement has taken off.  It is called Moving Difference, and in just a few short weeks, has garnered over 4,000 likes on Facebook. They’ve also tripled their original 1,000 hour goal, not even one month into their starting date.

As of Saturday, I will be a Cat Socializer. But if this sounds like something you’d like to do — summer volunteering, and being part of an accountability group of sorts with whom you can watch a lovely sunset at the end — you don’t have to work with cats. You can knit a little bear cub hat with tiny ears on it for a less fortunate but very cute baby. You can pick up fast food wrappers and other turtle-tangling debris from Town Lake. You can sumo wrestle for charity. Whatever! The goal is 12 hours per person, which is roughly the same amount of time I devoted to a Girls season 1 marathon a few weeks ago.

Here are instructions if you’d like to sign up. And if you need some inspiration, just consult Jeny. This summer, she is teaching  chess to deaf orphans in Kenya over Skype, taking CPR classes, volunteering at a golf tournament and helping at a pet shelter. I know!  Doesn’t reading that short list make you want to completely banish the “I’m busy” excuse from your vocabulary, forever?

Unless you’re Claudia, that is, who really is too busy napping.