National Volunteer Month in the United States takes place in the month of April. This month is dedicated to honoring all of the volunteers in our communities as well as encouraging volunteerism throughout the month.
In many cases, volunteering runs in the family. I know that is true for me. My mom and dad were both avid volunteers at church and elsewhere. My mom worked for many years at a local St. Vincent de Paul store (We always called it “Vinnies”), as well as working MANY funeral dinners.
My dad enjoyed volunteering for the Silver K (Kiwanis), where they helped police by checking for locked doors on homes when residents were out of town, and also serving as pallbearers at funerals when the family needed help carrying the casket.
I am an avid volunteer, largely for the Lions organization, but also others, including the church we attend and the Knights of Columbus, where I’ll be helping with this week’s Tootsie Roll Drive for the developmentally disabled.
For one thing, I am a firm believer that you get a lot out of volunteering. In serving as a club officer in Lions, I learned to be more comfortable leading a meeting and speaking in public. Reading at church also helped a LOT in the latter point.
As well as tangible benefits, volunteering also “feeds the soul.” It feels good to give back to the church you belong to and/or the community you live in.
The one word of caution I would say about volunteering is to proceed carefully.
Not unlike the Vincent Carlos post last week about learning to say “no” in the working world, I would add that learning this word is also vital in volunteering. Say “yes” to each and every volunteer opportunity that comes up will lead to resentment and burnout. No one can do everything.
Pick your volunteer activities carefully. What causes are you passionate about? Animal welfare? Then volunteering at a local shelter would make a lot of sense. Helping the elderly? Meals on Wheels or calling bingo at a local nursing home might be your calling.
Is your place of employment passionate about a certain cause? My wife’s bank, for instance, participates in a local run/walk for dementia awareness each fall.
One needn’t be passionate about a certain cause to be a volunteer, but it sure does help. If you just help out for a certain organization because that’s what your favorite neighbor does, fine and well, but “his bag” may or may not be “your thing.” He’ll enjoy the activity, but chances are you won’t and you’ll be apt to quit.
The main thing is to pitch in and do SOMETHING, whatever that may be, or for however many hours you can spare, whether it’s just four hours each month to four days a week.
It all makes a difference.
My mom used to say that we all have a beginning date and an ending date on our tombstone. It’s what we do in between – “the dash” – that counts.
Food for thought.
Read more at the link below.