Really Knowing a City

Image found on gapyearblog.org.uk

Image found on gapyearblog.org.uk

There are many ways to “know” a city – you can know your way around, you can know the “it” places to be, you can know the government and politics of a city…  Based on these definitions, I have thought that I’ve really “known” the many places I’ve lived.

But now I know I wasn’t even scratching the surface…

Recently, I’ve had the opportunity to participate in and visit many of Austin’s non-profit volunteer opportunities as part of my Junior League of Austin “placement” process.  It started with Coats for Kids in December.  Several hundred volunteers from around the Austin community came together to hand out coats to several thousand other members of the Austin community.  It was an opportunity to get to know so many different important pieces of my new city.

Earlier this year, Kristen and I signed up to participate in a poverty simulation.  It was hosted by Junior League, but it was co-hosted by many of the organizations in the greater Austin area who work with the homeless and others living on or below the poverty line.  It was a huge eye-opener for both of us.  I have never had such an appreciation for my car – the accessibility it offers me and the time it saves me!  Even better, the simulation gave me a greater understanding of all the services that are out there for Austin-ites.

Then a few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to tour the Animal Trustees of Austin.  It originally started out as a low-cost spay and neuter facility, but has turned into a full service veterinary hospital for all income levels.  They even serve homeless pet owners and partner with other organizations to put together small bags of pet food to hand out to the many homeless pet owners around Austin.  Did you know that homeless pet owners take better care of their pets than many pet owners with homes?  I never would have known that if I hadn’t gone on the Animal Trustees tour.

Volunteering – an amazing way to learn about a new city, and an amazing way to become an invested member in that new community

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