School Year in Service

When your passions and goals happen to align perfectly with a service you are able to freely give to people (or animals) who seek them out, it almost feels more selfish than selfless.

That’s how I have felt about any instances of volunteering my time during this passed school year.

I have been a martial artist since the age of four. I don’t remember much other than that I needed to keep progressing in any style I could. Now, at the age of 21, I still feel the same way. The main difference in four-year-old Kalie the one that exists now is that other people have deemed me knowledgeable in matters of self-defense to teach them. I’ve written countless times about how amazing it feels to offer this knowledge to people but this year involved something new. I was asked by several individuals to teach them techniques throughout the year. I was more than happy to be able to practice while also sharing things that I think everyone should familiarize themselves with.

As much as I loved helping people help themselves in this way, I think the highlight of teaching this year had to be when my old roommate, Pattalina, asked me to teach a full on seminar here at CMU for the Sigma Kappa ladies. Of course, I had taught seminars before and made decent money. However, as soon as Pat contacted me I knew this seminar was priceless. It was my first real class size (although there was way more than a few of them) that I was teaching in Mount Pleasant. On top of that, it was a large respected organization affiliated with the school. The opportunity to take such a large step in overlapping my future with my passion was amazing and all of those young ladies had great energy and were very gracious.

My second way to spend my time this year consisted of the Running Buddies program for walking or running with shelter dogs to keep them happy, healthy, and socialized. I have to admit though–this may be considered volunteering I can pretty confidently say all the buddies do this mostly for themselves. Even though any dog could easily steal my heart, I made a great connection with a very energetic mix named Hank. He had the biggest smile a dog could smile and was unable to contain his excitement (pure energy) to get out on the town for a bit. Riley and I picked him up and he immediately left his designated spot in the back seat and established a place on my lap. Just to put this into perspective, Hank was full grown (NOT lap dog size) and took up far more surface area than what my lap could offer. He gave us lots of kisses and hugs until we could finally wear him out by taking him all over campus. He even had a special stop at the LI to water the flowers (sorry everyone).

And since I know some of my readers will want this: here is a link for learning more about being a volunteer for Humane Animal Treatment Society-  http://www.hatsweb.org/volunteer  🙂

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Skills as Service

Most of my volunteer experiences this year happen to occur back in my home town while I was on a break or just away for a weekend. I actually went home very often this year in comparisons to last and I think it had a lot to do with people asking me to share my knowledge of martial arts and self-defense.

First, I was asked to come teach a very simplified self-defense seminar at Planet Kids Premier Academy. I spent my Friday afternoon teaching small children about stranger danger, how to stay away from dangerous people and places, and a few easy techniques for getting away from an attacker. It took a lot of patience and answering tons of questions before their brains and tiny little hands could grasp the concepts I had to teach. After the hard work was over, I got out the foam swords so they could feel like the big kids playing games in the real karate classes. They went crazy over the small matches they acted out and didn’t want that part to end. By the end of our time together that day, many of the children were grasping at my legs begging me not to leave. I never cease to be amazed by the endless amount of love and appreciation small children have shown me for doing something I find so normal.

A few weeks later as the weather began to grow cold in the fall, I returned home for a similar reason. Only this time, my students were on the opposite end of the age spectrum. I was asked to go to Auburn Hills at 7am on a Thursday Morning to teach a very different side of self defense to the members of the Optimist Club.  The truth about being older and living in a city is that people won’t really be looking out for you. In fact, the elderly are targeted often as easy to steal from. So for this lesson, we had to learn more self defense against weapons and life-threatening aggressors.

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The Optimist Club provides a framed copy of their creed to anyone that volunteers their times with them.

On the upside of waking up early and teaching serious material, I was given free breakfast and conversations that lasted long after the lesson on martial arts was over. I also got to witness how adorable it is when really old people sing a special version of the Happy Birthday song to a friend. And finally, it was great to experience a new age range to teach to. I wont be stopping any time soon so I can hope for more experience and bigger crowds.

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