After high school I spent a year doing voluntary service in South Bend, Indiana. And while I entered the year with apprehension, it turned out to be one of the best years of my life. During that time I volunteered at three part-time jobs doing mainly administrative work for various not-for-profit agencies. I lived in a house with several other young people who were also volunteering in the community and our room and board was provided for us. So this meant for us volunteers no money was coming in and no money was going out. After that year I couldn’t help but think that I would like nothing more than to volunteer for the rest of my life. Unfortunately, this isn’t possible for most of us. We have to earn money to pay the bills.
Fast forward several years and here I am in the adult world with a mortgage and way too many bills. So you know what this means – I need a paying job. But does this mean I have to give up on my volunteering? Of course not.
This is National Volunteer Appreciation Week. So it’s only fitting that I’m spending much of my time outside of work this week volunteering. And I try to do this as much as possible. Last weekend my Winnipeg friend Britta and I volunteered at a youth retreat in rural Alberta. This week I spent an evening volunteering at the Calgary Food Bank. And this coming weekend I will be volunteering at the Calgary Stampede Aggie Days event. Not only are these opportunities to selflessly give of my time to help others, but it’s also an opportunity to socialize and meet new people.
I grew up in a small farming community where volunteering was important. When there’s few people to choose from, someone has to step up to the plate. Whether you’re volunteering to bring your famous homemade apple pie to the fall supper, volunteering to coach the Pee Wee baseball team or volunteering to cut the grass at the church, every little thing is important and appreciated. Volunteers are the heart and soul of any community.
So I encourage you to find something that you’re passionate about and volunteer in that area. You may think that you’ll be giving of your time, energy and possibly money, but you’ll actually be receiving much more than you’re giving.
“The road to success is not crowded. Because while most are looking for ways to take, the truly successful people are finding ways to give. With a giving attitude, every situation is an opportunity for success.”