I have been volunteering for 38 years. Yes, that’s sad to say, but I’ve been volunteering since I was 4. My Dad was a captain in the Salvation Army, so I grew up volunteering. When I was 4 I would help people with many different mental illnesses and disabilities put bath beads into containers at the warehouse my Dad ran. That was it. I was hooked! I loved that there was an adult that not only loved giving me attention, but also would listen to me and take my advice! I was bossy from an early age, so I was in heaven. It was so fun explaining how to carefully put those bath beads into place!
At 5 I would volunteer at the Children’s Village, helping the foster children. My life was always centred around service. My parents tried to teach me that it is better to give than to receive. A lesson that I can easily lose sight of.
As a teenager I would volunteer for the 30 Hour Famine. Which I was never able to complete without caving and eating a chocolate bar or soup.
Then as an adult my first volunteer position was in the classroom. Once again I was thrilled! Now I was able to not only give instructions, but also be worshiped as an all knowing educator. This made me laugh almost as hard as those eager little grade 3’s did. It seemed like half of the boys proposed to me. Sadly, I had to break their sweet little hearts. I especially loved how they would sweeten the pot by promising me that I could either date their fathers or wait until they grew up to be rich hockey players.
I continued to volunteer in elementary classrooms until this day. It even inspired me to get my own teaching degree. Although teaching was not the career for me, I still have a huge sense of accomplishment every time I look at that degree.
I find the value of volunteering is the appreciation and the sense of having achieved something. Don’t we all want to leave this world better than we found it? Volunteering gives us the opportunity to help do that by aiding people in our community. I find that I get a high from random acts of kindness. It makes me feel better about myself and helps me feel like a better person. It can also help me escape the tunnel of self involvement or despair that I can easily fall into without realizing it. This year has been especially tough for all of us. Volunteering has helped me to remember that it could be much, much worse. It helps remind me to count my blessings, not my troubles.