You know how we’re always talking about going out and doing things even if you’re between jobs? Yeah. Either through pro bono work or taking new classes or hell, doing something that gets people talking. Run a marathon! Learn to swim with sharks or something! Or teach New Yorkers how to give each other CPR.
This NYT story from earlier this month follows Laura van Straaten, an underemployed media exec, who was inspired to make CPR training more accessible to New Yorkers after witnessing a volunteer rescue an older man. The fire department already offers free training to groups of 15 or more, but in NYC, who has that kind of space in their apartment?
So van Straaten ended up working with the city to organize classes in NYSC buildings. And spending a year working on the project, here and there, with no pay.
That none of the people there answer to her or pay her is testament not just to her will but also to the city’s willingness to facilitate the unpaid workaholism of an obliging citizen. “I remember one long phone conversation about the details of the training program that I had with Laura as she was making stuffing the night before her first big Thanksgiving,” said Lisa Hufcut, public relations director for New York Sports Clubs. “It went late.”
This isn’t to say how great van Straaten is, but how amazing it is that somebody was able to make this thing basically by sheer force of will. Where there was not a thing, a program, a class, a benefit to her fellow neighbors, now there is. And you don’t need a job to do that (though getting paid helps); you just need to find something that should exist but doesn’t, and then make it exist.
Van Straaten is still “avidly pursuing full-time work…at a media company,” but after this publicity, we’re not sure how long that will be true either. Somebody is going to make a job exist for her.
(Semi-related: Ladies’ Home Journal Article Inspires Selfless Act (FishbowlNY))