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  • Tashia Lange

A PPS Volunteer Story

by Tashia Lange, Portland Psychedelic Society Volunteer Chair

A month or two after getting laid off from my cushy WFH tech sales job, I see a Portland Psychedelic Society Volunteer Open House announced on Meetup. I take it as a sign that I should finally get involved with PPS after lurking on Meetup the last couple years. I click “Attend,” and add it to my calendar.

Although an introvert, I am but a mere human so I crave connection and I need community. Without fellow humans to interact with and be accountable to, lethargy sets in and idle inertia virtually sedates me. The pandemic, working remotely, and moving across the country deconstructed any sense of community I had going into 2020. 

Of course I still have ride or die friends and family forever in my corner. But I find myself intrinsically motivated to seek out more of my people, preferably in person. I know they’re out there. And I know they’re doing cool stuff I want to do too!

So I go to this Volunteer Open House with an open mind. Board members introduce themselves. I observe with intrigue and imagine it would be cool to be on the board of Portland Psychedelic Society. And during this psychedelic renaissance?! Unspeakably rad. 

Attendees introduce ourselves in small groups. Everyone seems so cool, all with unique stories. Yet we all showed up for similar reasons - we care about the psychedelic movement and want to build community with likeminded people. 

My people!

This is my first PPS event and I feel right at home. The mission and the vibrations in the room resonate with the core of my beingness. I can’t wait to sign up to volunteer for an upcoming movie event at Clinton Street Theatre. 

I start attending bimonthly Event Committee Meetings. I sub in for the Event Committee Secretary to take meeting minutes a couple times. I move into that role fully when the former secretary joins the board. I go to volunteer mixer events and get to know other volunteers and board members. I go to monthly Meetup groups and get to know community members. I cannot get over how cool and kind and interesting everyone is. And genuinely caring. I make friends. 

Side note: making friends as an adult, especially an introverted adult, is a miracle as stunning as existence itself.

I get more involved with planning events and contributing to more strategic conversations. 

At one meeting, I raise my hand to help fill a need on the volunteer development team. I work with creative and intelligent people to learn what has been done in the past and brainstorm what can be done in the future. I collaborate with fellow volunteers and board members to create initiatives and processes to better serve volunteers.

I am nominated and interview for the Volunteer Development Chair position on the PPS board of directors. I’m voted in. At my first board retreat, I get to witness firsthand the development and evolution of this organization. I vote on things that are phenomenally exciting for PPS and the psychedelic community at large. I pinch myself. This is indeed happening. 

I continue to collaborate, ask questions, brainstorm, strategize, develop, hone, try, fail, start over, try again. I join meetings and attend events that keep opening up new opportunities and possibilities, and introduce me to more and more cool humans. I go outside my comfort zone and learn new things about myself and about the psychedelic and nonprofit communities.

I meet new and prospective volunteers regularly. Most of them tell me the same thing - they care about the psychedelic movement and want to build community with likeminded people.

My! People!

I’m very grateful to PPS for providing space and structure conducive for community building and friend making.

I’m also grateful to, and proud of, myself for doing what I set out to do. And then some. Since getting involved with PPS, I have surrounded myself with wonderful humans and beautiful souls who embrace my weirdness, expand my mind, and exercise compassion.

Connecting with lovely people while serving a meaningful mission has been revelatory in this transitory season of life. My self esteem is through the roof and I am more motivated and energized than I have been in a long while.

All this goodness from volunteering is spilling over into the rest of my life. In building the community I need, I’m finding the power within myself to create the life I want. It’s freakin exhilarating and I highly recommend it to all beings.

If you’re looking for community or a meaningful sense of purpose, go volunteer for something you care about. Your people are there and ready for you to join them!

TLDR - Volunteering: 10/10 would recommend. Bonus if with PPS (:

The next PPS Volunteer Mixer meets Tuesday, April 23rd at 5:30 pm!

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