Ironically, I grew up in a family that never volunteered. I didn’t even know that you could volunteer until I became involved in church as a teenager. Years later I married someone who was and still is an incredible volunteer. It is through him and his family that I eventually learned the gift that volunteering would deliver.
When my four children were in school, there were volunteer opportunities within the school that I found enjoyable. But as my kids grew along with my business, any volunteer time was pushed to the back burner. I felt a bit guilty but knew that one I day, when my kids were grown and work slowed down, I would make volunteering a priority.
After almost 20 years of business ownership, last year I made the decision to sell my business. I also made the decision that it was time to jump back in to the world of volunteerism.
Over the years I kept my eye on two organizations that I felt a connection with. Although I had donated monetarily, now it was my turn to get involved physically. I connected with these organizations and they to me.
November of last year I became a Board Member of 360 Youth Services and a volunteer and Chair on the Community Advisory Council for Loaves and Fishes. Both are incredible agencies. Since getting involved, I have not looked back. I now look forward to the days I’m able to volunteer in the pantry or help create innovative fundraising ideas. It is a feeling like no other. If you’re considering volunteering, perhaps the following experiences might inspire you to move ahead and get involved.
• Volunteering has allowed me to get outside of my comfortable world and connect with those less fortunate. It’s a reminder of how lucky I am to be able to give back when I feel I’ve been given so much.
• Volunteering is my way to connect with community. Because of work, I rarely had the opportunity to meet new and interesting people. Volunteering affords me the pleasure of meeting incredible people and hearing their moving stories.
• Volunteering is what I believe life is all about. You give, you get. Not that I volunteer to get something back, but the truth is that volunteering gives me more purpose than my job ever did. The feeling of gratitude and satisfaction spreads so much further and I’m able to see the lives that I can positively impact. It’s humbling.
• Volunteering brings people together. When I volunteer I’m able to share a connection with all ages, cultures and income levels. When clients come through the pantry or I’m able to chat with some of the clients from 360 there is a connection and appreciation that’s difficult to explain. It fills me up.
• Volunteering makes me introspective. Little do the folks that I work with know the incredible difference they make in my life each time I volunteer. Yes, volunteering has positively changed my life.
If you’re at a point in life and you’re asking yourself, “Is that all there is?” Consider volunteering. Look around at organizations in your community and find what resonates with you. It is then that you will realize with volunteering you can’t lose, it’s a win-win.
How has volunteering positively impacted your life?