Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Antidote to being pulled down by the 2016 political campaigns: Reach out!

Last year a friend asked me whether I knew of any volunteer opportunities in the East Bay, a question that I was delighted to hear!  I compiled a list for her of some of the opportunities of which I was aware, sent it to her, and planned to post it here, but never got around to it.  Then a couple of weeks ago this same topic came up in conversation with another friend, and I promised to send my list from last year...but of course, when I took a look at the list, I figured it could be improved upon, so I spent an afternoon -- interestingly enough, it was an afternoon when I was supposed to go to a Volunteer Appreciation Party -- revising and updating the list*.  And here it is:

Elizabeth House
  Provides services and shelter to women in difficult situations... (located next to St Augustine's in what I think is the former convent.)  There are a variety of opportunities here.

Berkeley Food and Housing Project  Among other things, they have a Women's Center that serves homeless women and families and women with disabilities through a temporary shelter, transitional housing and other services.

Night on the Streets Catholic Worker -- lots of services (click here for a comprehensive list) for the neediest residents of the East Bay, especially around Berkeley.  [I have worked with the Sunday morning breakfast for the homeless (starts at 7:15 am in People's Park every Sunday) and the soup and hot chocolate delivery which happens several nights each week in the winter months.  Contact JC Orton (info at link above) to get involved, or just show up on Sunday morning :-) ] 

Oakland Catholic Worker -- primarily serving the migrant community -- opportunities to tutor English and work with the clients in other ways and I don't know what all else-- they always need people to help!

International Rescue Committee  Oakland branch -- helps resettle refugees and provides other services for refugees

Planting Justice-- urban farming resource, food justice, etc., also teaches permaculture skills to local prisoners with the goal of hiring them when they are released and volunteers teach high school students about gardening and food justice issues... a very interesting grassroots group

St. Anthony Foundation in SF has a variety of ministries (meals, clothing, employment counseling, etc.) that always need volunteers.

This organization holds workshops every few months, usually on a Saturday (but sometimes on Sunday) where people who are trying to become naturalized citizens can come and get help filling out their paperwork, talk to a lawyer, etc.  [I really enjoyed helping out at this.]

Bay Area Literacy looks like a great program -- I volunteered in a similar program in Charlotte, NC, and enjoyed the work very much.  (And I'm thinking this might be a good place for me to plug in to help someone with GED prep -- I promised a friend I would do this so I'd better make good on my promise...)

Also, here are some websites that have volunteer opportunities databases or lists:
There is also a list of opportunities in and near Berkeley here.

*if you don't live in the Bay Area, I hope this list will give you some ideas about what you can do in your own community to reach out and get involved!

How did the constant pi get its name?

It's always a good idea for a math tutor to know everything (it's almost like being a mother!)  Yesterday a student asked me why π [the mathematical constant] is named with the Greek letter π.  Of course I didn't know offhand, though I guessed that since π had an important connection with the perimeter of a circle, that somebody along the way decided to use the Greek letter for "p" as the name for the constant.  I was mostly correct, as it turns out, but the actual history is much more interesting...
Read more here:
William Jones and his Circle: The Man who Invented Pi

p.s. While writing this post, I found this: