Volunteering has always been good for business. Being generous with my time and energies has been extremely rewarding on many levels. I get to meet other givers at charity functions. I’ve connected with some of my favorite event planners, performers, and caterers at fund raising events. Forty years later, we still recommend each other for well-paid work when we get the opportunity. Another benefit of charitable events is benefactors, who may pay $1000 or more a plate for dinner and entertainment. They also throw their own parties. I often give out business cards when asked and collect referrals for other causes and more lucrative events. I read many people at these events who have the maladies we’re working for or have family members or friends who have them. I feel grateful to be able to be there to support them.
Newspapers, magazines, books, and radio & TV were obvious ways to promote business. When I first started contributing my time and talents to causes, it never occurred to me to volunteer for the purpose of marketing or publicity. I was taught in early childhood that if you’re lucky enough to have a good life, you have a responsibility to give back in some way. I used to search for old ladies to help across the street, carry their bags, give up my seat, or open a door. I never expected anything in return. I believe that learning to give contributed to my having a happy childhood.
These days, I sign copious petitions and donate time and money to a variety of social causes. I sometimes regret getting involved as I receive copious requests for endless causes and contributions in my mailbox. I feel like unsubscribing from everything and becoming a hermit, but I don’t. It’s impossible for me to stand by while plutocrats and bigots exploit our environment and trample our human rights under gigantic footprints.
I volunteer regularly for charitable causes like AIDS, Cancer, Schizophrenia, Cystic Fibrosis, Blindness, Healthy Environment, and Dance & Arts Education. The same organizations have called me back year after year. I ask them to pay these days, but offer a substantial discount. They’re grateful to have me and tell me that their guests ask ahead whether I’ll be there. Some of their patrons feel like old friends who like to inform me of their progress since last year’s five-minute rendezvous.
Back in the late ‘80’s, I started working with the AIDS community. It began as research. I hoped to be able to identify the virus in a diversity of hands and track its progress or regress. I printed many hundreds of immune deficient hands of people in various stages from early HIV to full blown AIDS. As I continued to print their hands, I found substantial changes over time. It was hard for me to finance my time and expenses. I tried to find a sponsor to help fund my efforts. No one seemed interested in paying for my research.
In 1994, I discovered Bailey House and met Roy Fowler. Bailey House was an AIDS housing and health organization and Roy was in charge of rehab. Roy wanted to help and hired me to read their clients’ hands, tarot cards, and astrology. I worked two afternoons a week for two years with Roy and Bailey House’s staff and clients.
Individuals with HIV/AIDS tend to suppress their potentials because they’re concerned mainly with the harsh realities of their impending mortality. I was able to identify their strengths, abilities, and talents and encourage them to have hope and make use of the time and resources they had. I played a role for many as a spiritual counselor. Just my being there encouraged some of the more despondent clients to show up at the center.
It was hard to leave, but I needed to make more money. I also hadn’t been able to gather enough hard statistics to validate my research. When I left, Roy handed me this unsolicited testimonial (below). He hoped to help me advance my palmistry work.