Local Book Drive: Help Me Raise 600 Books for The Children of Philadelphia

Reading has always been a part of my life in some shape or form; whether it be for the use of education, research or leisure, it’s had a way of shaping my life. However, there is a lost generation of readers in today’s society.

I believe reading is fundamental for everyone, but primarily for children, adolescents and young adults. The society we live in is constantly progressing in the technology industry, and between social media and television, reading has taken a place on the back burner, but I’m one of many hoping to change that.

This spring, I am partnering with Tree House Books, a local non-profit organization whose “vision is to see that every child in Philadelphia has access to books and every opportunity to pursue their dreams. We are on a mission to grow and sustain a community of readers, writers, and thinkers.” 

Founded in 2005, Tree House Books classifies themselves as a Giving Library and Literacy Center in North Philadelphia with a dual purpose to provide free books to the community, and Out of School Time (OST) programs that increases literacy skills, and promote a lifelong love of reading and writing in children from their earliest moments, through high school, and beyond.

More specifically, I will be working within their Books in Every Home campaign which is on a mission to give deserving families in Philadelphia access to books who may not have otherwise. A statement on their website that I can fully support is that they understand that most of a child’s learning goes beyond a traditional school setting and the need to encourage and inspire reading in homes is crucial. However, these children are attending schools that do not have lending libraries or may be low-income households that cannot afford to purchase books to bring into the home. And that’s why I want to help achieve their goal of distributing 75,000 books in 2018 throughout the city, surpassing their total of 67,000 in 2017.

Reading was always so easily accessible to me either at home or school growing up. I love getting lost in the words of an author, living vicariously through characters, learning something new, expanding my imagination far past the words on the pages.

More than that, reading can have other long-term effects such as improving focus and concentration, enhancing memory, expanding imagination, healthier alternative for entertainment, language development, increase of knowledge, and long-term academic success.

 The 2013 National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) reading test results demonstrate that far too many young people continue to read below grade level. Sixty five percent of all U.S. fourth graders scored “below proficient,” which means that they are not reading at grade level. Only 35 percent of fourth graders are reading at or above grade level. In addition, 64 percent of eighth graders are reading below grade level, whereas 36 percent are reading at or above grade level. Still, these statistics do show an improvement at both grade levels. In 1992, 72 percent of fourth graders and 71 percent of eighth graders were reading below grade level.  – U.S. Department of Education, “The Nation’s Report Card,” 2013.

For more staggering facts about he literacy rates in our nation, visit this site:

http://thencbla.org/literacy-resources/statistics/

This book drive is small step for me, however, it is one that can have a large impact on families throughout Philadelphia, but I need your help.

My goal is to collect 600 books to donate to Tree House Books within the next 6 weeks.

Tree House is specifically looking for all children’s books, classic literature used in schools, and African-American literature, but are accepting all books, with exception of encyclopedias, as they can find a home for every book, or they can keep them in their giving library in North Philadelphia.

Alternatively, if you do not have any books you wish donate, but still want to support the organization, you can make a donation on their website!

Contact me via this post, by email at keoughmeg1@gmail.com, or by phone if you have my number if you wish to donate some books or have any questions! You can also drop off locally at either Bishop McDevitt High School in Wyncote, PA or The Borough Brewhouse in Jenkintown, PA. I truly appreciate any and all donations in my effort to help bring literacy back!

*And don’t forget to celebrate World Book Day on April 23rd!*

 

 

 

 

Side Hustles: Why You Should Have One

I first heard the term ‘side hustle’ while reading Ann Shoket’s millennial guiding book, The Big Life  , and it’s a term that has stuck with me since then. Typically, a side hustle is a way of earning extra cash outside of your primary income, which I think is great and incredibly smart and responsible especially for those of us in our early stages of adulthood without the responsibility of kids or running a household. However, Shoket has her own terms and conditions surrounding this term that seems to be on the rise.

Get a Side-Hustle. The idea that one job can be your everything feels so dated, doesn’t it? Sometimes you need a day job that pays the bills or gives you security, even if it doesn’t feed your soul. That’s when you need a side-hustle—a project you work on to put yourself in charge or build new skills in your career. This is how you pay yourself in self-respect.”

I think the idea of this is incredibly inspiring, especially in today’s society, and urge all of you to give this some serious consideration.

I, myself, do have an actual side hustle in it’s truest form, a second job at a local restaurant and brewery, that provides me extra cash outside of my bi-weekly paycheck from my 9-5. Which is awesome considering the loans that need to be paid off, the monthly bills, attempting to lease a car, and all other expenses life has to drown us in.

Even though that side hustle was intended for its primary purpose, it’s turned into much more than that because I genuinely like what I do when I go there and I’ve also made so many new friendships.

So, if you’re contemplating finding your side hustle but hesitant because you might just feel like it will make you more miserable than your existing job while also taking time away from leisure activities, find something that works for you; try different roles out, or, best case scenario, find a way to make money off of something you already love doing.

This recommendation brings me to my next point of my other side hustle, the one not entirely intended for extra cash.

I started this blog about 18 months ago and I’ve watched it progressively grow which has been super rewarding in regards to many aspects. In contrast to my side hustle that compensates my bank account, maintaining this website compensates areas of my life that lack substance. It helps me improve my writing skills, enhances my time management and organization, provides insights into social media and sharing, and pays me in self-respect. This website is minimally profitable, but with more views I get, the more money I potentially earn. 

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I’ve read that other people’s side hustles often include playing music in clubs, dog walking, organizing book clubs, life coaching, and blogging, among other things.

Sometimes our jobs, especially early on in our career can leave us feeling undervalued, bored and passionless. Finding a side hustle can help with all of that.

We all have hobbies, so why not find a way to turn the things you’re passionate about into profit or productivity? And even if that’s not possible, it’s nice to work at things that make you feel good, inspire you and reward you in different ways.

If you do have an existing side hustle, comment below, I’m interested to hear different answers! Cheers!

 

It’s Always Darkest Before The Dawn

The best kind of happiness is the kind that comes into your life when you least expect it. Between toxic relationships, endlessly job searching for months, anxiety, 2017 wasn’t the easiest year. But just like everything else, pros and cons go hand in hand. Although I struggled from time to time this past year, I also had a lot of great opportunities to experience and I’m so grateful to reflect on the better times because good always outweighs the bad.

I had the chance to visit a few new cities, spend a lot of time on the beach, read new books, focus on myself, start a new job and develop new friendships. I’m happy about everything good that has come my way, but I’m not entirely sad to see 2017 come to a close and I’m more than happy to embark on 2018.

As many of you know, I’ve had a difficult and defeating time seeking full-time employment this past year, which I know some people can relate to and I wish you all the best of luck in your process! However, I do not have to continue my search as I accepted a full-time offer right before the holiday. When accepting the offer over the phone, I literally said to the woman, “This is the greatest Christmas gift I’ve ever received”, and there is so much truth behind that.

The past few weeks, knowing that this is the last of my excessive free time, have been so stress- free and relaxing. The weight I feel has been lifted from my shoulders, from both external and internal pressures to find a full-time job, is indescribable.

As the saying goes, good things take time, and I guess time is what I needed. The past year and a half as post-grad have definitely been unconventional from the outside looking in, but I feel I’m right where I’m meant to be. I’m learning that as you get older, people’s opinions of your choices become more and more irrelevant, and I think that’s something everyone should keep in the back of their minds. I think my biggest regret of 2017 was caring so much about what everyone else thought and ignoring what I actually cared about. Maybe it’s easier said than done, but it’s an empowering feeling when you finally conquer this tactic.

Even though it’s just a change in date on the calendar, a new year can be an opportunity for change, growth and fulfillment. Although I don’t have a resolution, and I don’t normally do, I’m definitely more committed than ever to focusing on me in every way, shape and form. Whitney Port posted an Instagram that resonated with where I am right now and I couldn’t love it more.

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She captions the quoted picture with “Loving yourself isn’t only the greatest revolution, but the greatest resolution.”

Wherever you’re at in your life, don’t forget to love yourself. If you’re in a tough place or confused or lost, just remember, it’s always darkest before the dawn, as Florence and The Machine says.

Happy New Year!

The 9-5 Sentence: The Truth Behind A Full-time Job

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Less than two months into my full-time job and I feel suffocated. Maybe suffocated isn’t the right word to use, but I feel trapped. There are only seven short days in a week and the average working person is expected to work for 8 or 9 hours during five of them. Which, in perspective may seem fair in regards to the paycheck, but when you think about how much can be done over the course of eight hours, or how much you can accomplish, you may begin to question why the standard work week has you grinding 9-5 Monday through Friday.

Regardless of the hours employees are expected to actually be at work, we can also factor in commute time to our respective workplaces. So now not only are we looking at 8-9 hours a day, we might be designating 9-11 hours to our work day. Maybe this a stretch, but it’s still something to think about considering the time you spend working per day is more time than you designate to yourself a day.

Furthermore, just thinking about how extensive eight hours actually is, we can begin to wonder what else we could be accomplishing during this time frame; laundry, cleaning, errands, working out, binge watching- an episode on Netflix is only 43 minutes…

An alternative way that the corporate world could employ could be by giving each employee a set of tasks that need to be completed in a given week, giving them 40 hours to complete the task and being able to finish before the 40 hours is up; rather than judging a full work week on how many hours an employee sits on their ass in front of a computer screen. Because let’s be honest, we all have times throughout the week we find ourselves just staring at the clock, waiting for that eighth hour to roll around enabling us to clock out.

And before you begin to think I’m naïve, just know I fully understand that this is just how the working world is, and I accept it. It’s just interesting to analyze the mundane, routineness that surrounds it. In a way, I appreciate it too since it pays the bills, but would I rather be working from my home? Yes, and I’m super jealous of those who have the opportunity to do just that. Which brings me to my next point, why can’t most people in the corporate setting work from home?

For those who sit behind two screens all day, you can probably agree that most of your work could be conducted from the comfort of your home since all you really need is the internet and a computer, and maybe a phone. I condone businesses that allow their employees the flexibility of this work style, and encourage others to do the same. But what really raises questions for me, is when businesses allow employees who are sick to work from home, or require their employees to work from home on snow days- this is a dead giveaway that working from home is possible and can be done.

To top this all off, after working ex amount of hours a day, by the time you get home there isn’t much energy left to get anything done. Then before you know it, you’re hitting the hay to recharge your batteries and start the same routine tomorrow. I now understand why everyone lives for Fridays; they are extremely crucial to the happiness and well being of us young, 20 something year olds.

I know that I’m doomed to the 9-5 sentence for life, but that’s just how the world works. And I knew that by choosing to go to school for something in the corporate field, I had already fallen victim to this life, but I’ll accept if for as long as the paychecks keep coming. Hopefully one day I can escape this mandated schedule and find a job where I make my own schedule, be the one who makes the schedule or even better, can work from the comfort of my own home, on my own time.

Peace On Earth, Good Will To Men

As the holidays are coming to an end and a new year approaches, I’m realizing how I have so much to be thankful for between friends and family, even if I still haven’t found that full time job yet and am drowning in a sea of debt! (On a bittersweet note, to touch on my last post about hiring managers, a few companies did finally reach out to me, letting me know I will not be moving up in the hiring process. If you read my last post, you’ll know why I feel that’s bittersweet).

Driving home from babysitting the night before Christmas Eve, I found myself realizing how different the holidays are as we get older- Perhaps how much more appreciative we are as we get older- and how my reasons for loving Christmas has changed.

When I was younger, even in high school, and if I’m being completely honest, most of college, I used to look so forward to what I was opening on Christmas morning, how much money I would have after the holiday, and what the plans were for Christmas Eve and Day shenanigans.  And I think that when we’re young it’s okay to have our main concern aimed at what we’re getting for Christmas, it’s almost as if it’s our unwritten right to be selfish as kids this time of year. However, this year was different; I didn’t give much thought to what was going to be underneath the tree Christmas morning, but more so how the time would be spent leading up to December 25th.

Reflecting on this, I also realize that there aren’t many materialistic things I want or even concrete things that my parents could wrap up and put under the tree. Unrealistically, I would like my student loans to disappear, to be anxiety free, and a JOB. Santa??

Anyway, my sister who’s been in England since August returned home to celebrate the holidays with us which was a priceless gift for everyone in our family, one in which I know we’re all happy about. Knowing that we’re all in good health is also a gift to be appreciative of, as well as having a nice roof over our heads. Cliché and a bit cheesy, but you all know it’s true. These are things I know I should be unconditionally grateful for year round, but the holidays really highlight how special certain things can be, even the simplest factors of very day life.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, a poet from Cambridge, Massachusetts, wrote a very thoughtful and meaningful poem in 1863 during the Civil War, which is now composed into many renditions of one of my favorite Christmas songs, Christmas Bells. Specifically the rendition done by John Gorka. It’s beautiful, meaningful, and instils in you the true meaning of Christmas- a time to be joyous, thankful, and selfless.

Recently I read an article written in 1990 titled, Why I Hate Christmas, and as scrooge sounding as it was, everything the man wrote was true! Although I agree with some of the things he talked about were true, he did not sway my opinion to hate Christmas. Think about how strongly the holidays effect our economy between the extravagant gifts, abundant amount of gifts, money spent on holiday parties-both food and alcohol costs- decorations, lights, cards, wrapping paper, travel costs, etc. It’s scary to think about most department stores make two fifths of their profit in the few short weeks of the Christmas season. And although this results positively for our country’s economy,  all of that excess spending could be put to better use, especially around the holidays, for the kids who get nothing instead of buying another gift for someone who had everything- for example, donating to charities. Furthermore, instead of spending in a charitable way, we could even donate time to volunteer services.

Maybe if we thought less about the materialistic aspects of the holiday, more people would appreciate the Christmas season itself, resulting in less stress and pressure on parents, loved ones, and friends to find the “perfect” gift, and everyone’s gift to each other could just be the time spent together.

Spending time with my family and friends this past week has been great, but I still have the post-grad scaries that creep up on me in the quiet of the crowd. Being aware of the fact that my student loans most definitely kick in in two months from now is enough to make my heart stop, so the job search is in full force as I enter 2017. Although there are many things happening that stress me out and make me sick, the things I do have to be grateful for and enjoy, definitely outweigh them! So, for now I’m going to relax, enjoy myself, and pray that this will actually be the best year yet.

Merry Christmas and A Happy New  Year!