Elizabeth Paul

Elizabeth Paul


By Julie Kerns Garmendia
Resident Community News

Elizabeth Paul, 33, of Murray Hill found the perfect way to volunteer by going online to investigate meetup.com. The Internet site is a network of local groups where individuals can connect with others who share similar interests. They form offline clubs that plan regular meetings or activities. Paul joined a volunteering group that organizes and posts volunteer opportunities.
“I’ve been in the group four months and have attended three group volunteer events. There is no pressure, you simply join in whatever activity your schedule permits. It is perfect for people who work or have little free time. An organizer selects a particular charity and you decide what and how much time you can give according to your interests,” she said.
Paul said that the groups are an easy way to become involved in a volunteer activity without committing to a rigid schedule. They also bring like-minded individuals together to meet and form friendships, while helping others and the community. The organizer and group members plan social events and holiday parties for participants.
Activities of the volunteering group have included sorting food for distribution by Second Harvest Food Bank, organizing donated clothing for distribution by Dignity You Wear and an upcoming beautification project for Wolfson High School where volunteers will build benches for the school campus.
“I am a big believer in donating time. It is just as valuable as monetary donations and just as needed. Most people my age in their early thirties are busy pursuing careers and working long hours; they don’t tend to volunteer much. I want to encourage that age group of young professionals to find a volunteer activity that could fit into their schedule,” she said.
Paul has also found a way to use her artistic interest in belly dancing, to donate back to the community. She studies and performs with a local belly dance troupe, Troupe Tarab. The group volunteers to perform for community events including Art Walk, Riverside Arts Market, Christmas in Avondale, for senior citizens in area nursing homes and patients in rehabilitation facilities.
“Our instructor is Julianne Battaglia, who teaches dance through Ed White High School’s Continuing Education Program,” she said. “We also entertain for the Cancer Relays for Life and other cancer awareness events.”
Paul, a native of Jacksonville, recently bought her first home in Murray Hill. The 1928 Craftsman style one-story brick home took her a year to find and was worth the wait.
“It is just beautiful and was move-in ready. While I was house-hunting I had a picture in my mind the entire time of what I was looking for and I love the Murray Hill neighborhoods,” she said. “I held my first family Thanksgiving, a holiday party and New Year’s Eve party, which all made it truly feel like home. Me and my little family of two rescue kitties, Mr. T and Cricket, (I have sucker written on my forehead), are looking forward to adding furniture and decorating more as time goes on. It’s a little bare right now.”
Paul believes that her interest in volunteering may have come from watching her own family. She describes her family as always caring and very aware of the needs of others.
“I believe that people pick up more from what we do than from what we say, so in giving back to the community I want to be the person who works to make changes instead of asking others to do that,” she said. “I’m afraid there is a real mentality out there of every man for himself, but I believe that the world can change for the better one person and one activity at a time. The truth is, if I could, I would join the Peace Corps right now.”
Paul, who completed her degree from the University of North Florida in 2002 in Fine Arts/Photography, is a 1997 Ed White High School graduate. She has worked as a graphic designer for Mitchell Proffitt Company for 10 years.
Along with her career and working as a community volunteer, Paul enjoys travel around the U.S. and Europe. She plans to add more countries to the list she has already visited. Paul is interested in healthy eating and would like to improve and expand her cooking. She can be seen regularly walking her Murray Hill neighborhood.

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