Thursday, January 21, 2016

The value of volunteering

Do you volunteer?   I think I have always volunteered – even in high school I was the editor of the school newsletter – which in hindsight, shows that I was on the right path in my career choices.

In my volunteer career I have done the gamut from being a volunteer probation officer, group leader for the Children’s Aid Society, gala event co-ordinator, served on committees, been a board member at the local, national and international levels, chaired boards – from a women’s shelter to a national board and am currently editor of our local newspaper.

You could say I am a professional volunteer.  I often joke that I must have written across my forehead – “works hard.”   But you know while giving back is rewarding, what you gain in return is way, way, more.  So it is not always that altruistic as you learn new skills, broaden your network and I even furthered my career because of my volunteer involvement.

What spurred me on write this blog though is the realization that my latest volunteer activity is probably one of the most rewarding, and yet really takes little from me except my time, which granted is a precious commodity.  What am I doing?    I am doing a shift once a week at our local Salvation Army to sort donations for the incoming refugees to Guelph.

I think one of the reasons I like it, is frankly it doesn’t require too much of my brain power which is in short supply these days as I juggle two businesses and yet, I know without the help of volunteers like myself, it would be even more chaotic for the families arriving. 

Yes, it is physically tiring as you are standing for four hours and moving stuff, but to my mind, it is the least we can do and I leave feeling a sense of satisfaction that I made a dent in the overwhelming mounds of clothing that have come in. 

We all volunteer for different reasons and if you’ve never explored helping out with a cause you believe in – try it.  You will broaden your perspective. 

If you are going through a tough time yourself, try it.  You will realize that there may be people way worse off than you and it takes the focus away from your issues. 

And if you are out of work, try it.  You’ll learn new skills to add to your resume and maybe even discover new talents and a career to pursue.

You get a warm feeling inside knowing that you’ve made a difference. There is a quote I like – “all that we give into the lives of others, comes back into our own.”

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