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I consider myself a socially conscious person. It's the way I was raised. My family attended a pretty progressive church — as far as churches go. Every year the church made a trip to Haiti to help repair a church and a house or two. I always wanted to go, but was too young. By the time I was old enough to go, the trips had stopped. But by then, I'd discovered the Peace Corps.

I went to a high school where the school motto was "live simply so that others may simply live." We were all required to do a minimum of forty hours of community service before graduation. I did 60 in the day care at a homeless shelter because it was fun! We colored, played games, and drew pictures of enormous houses with bright green yards filled with flowers and trees.

I was always so very pleased with all my socially conscious work. I volunteered, read books to kindergarteners and 1st graders in a "bad neighborhood" that no one else would go to — so brave, never gave less than a dollar to homeless people on the street, and recycled. Big pat on the back to myself — well done! But there was something nagging at me…

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