As you probably figured out, I fell behind my 3 hours every weekend pace in Georgia as I bounced around to different cities and focused on visiting friends and seeing the sights. I knew I would have a few weeks in Raleigh where I knew fewer people and could spend some more time focusing on my community service goal. To catch up this past Saturday, I attended two community service events. The two events were just a little different in nature…

In the morning I made it out to North Raleigh Ministries to do some gardening. Upon arrival I was asked “Do you do a lot of gardening?” It was requested that I wear boots or mudders, so apparently my Nike’s hadn’t blown my cover up to this point. My quick “no” response foiled any remaining credibility I had as an adept gardener. This was fine though as we happened to have two master gardeners with us on this day. Jeff led the charge, but Fred had been working with him over the past year as well.

You may be surprised at the location of this garden. Driving up, I was not sure if I was in the right place. They have converted a section of space that was behind a strip mall right next to their crisis center into a garden that has supplied right around 1,000 pounds of food for the Client’s Choice Market the past two years. Jeff envisions matching or exceeding those numbers this year as well. The garden is just one aspect of North Raleigh Ministries, which helps struggling neighbors achieve self-sufficiency.

On this day, we were not harvesting any food, but preparing the garden for the season ahead. The difficulty with being behind a strip mall is that all the runoff from the roofs onto the concrete ultimately finds its way to the one non concrete area, which happens to be the garden. To combat this, Jeff and Fred led a team of 6 volunteers in a project to put down newspaper and cardboard beneath woodchips in between the rows to control the runoff and also to control the weeds, leaving the garden to prosper. The team of volunteers rapidly fell into a routine and we moved at a pretty quick pace. I became a wheel barrel guy. Moving topsoil to build up the rows and woodchips to lay on top of the newspaper/cardboard combo.IMG_2038

After we finished up the gardening, I pushed the crew to gather for a picture (getting everybody but one…). From there, I headed straight to the second event of the day. My Nike’s may have been out of place in the garden, but you would be surprised to hear that it was my pants that were out of place for my next community service event. Not looking to turn down any unique opportunities on my trip around the country, I decided to volunteer for the Cupid’s Undie Run to cap off my community service Saturday.

For the undie run, I helped the officers out with closing down streets and ensuring that no cars ended up on the “strenuous” one mile course through the heart of the city. Surprisingly, my intersection (which looked like it would have little to no action), ended up with all sorts of people showing up right after the race started. Most were happy to wait it out or turn around to look for another route…

The Cupid’s Undie Run is exactly what it sounds like…a bunch of people running a mile in their “bedroom best” on a weekend close to Valentine’s Day. The run starts with a party and ends with a party. The schedule on the website even points to the awards ceremony being BEFORE the actual race. You might be wondering at this point if this is even a volunteer opportunity worth recording, and I can assure you that it is…

All of the proceeds from the Cupid’s Undie Run are used to fight Neurofibromatosis (NF). NF is a genetic disorder that causes tumors to grow on nerves throughout the body, causing blindness, deafness, learning disabilities and severe chronic pain. NF affects roughly 1 in every 3,000 births in the U.S. and the race is on a mission to #EndNF with all proceeds benefiting the Children’s Tumor Foundation. The Children’s Tumor Foundation is the world’s largest non-government organization dedicated to ending Neurofibromatosis (NF) through research. Currently, there is no cure for NF.

On a Saturday when I found myself in two completely different situations, I learned most importantly that there are many ways to MAKE AN IMPACT. Master Gardener Jeff wore boots, jeans, gloves, and baseball cap on this Saturday in Raleigh. Race Director Jennifer wore high heels, a tutu, a bra, and a headband with heart ears bouncing around. Both wearing and doing completely different things on this Saturday, but both certainly MAKING AN IMPACT. You may not be able to garden or wear a tutu, but everyone has a spot on the scale, and once you find where you fit on that scale you can use your unique talents to MAKE AN IMPACT.