I know, it's different for everyone. Some people volunteer because they have extra time on their hands and some people volunteer because they are passionate about a particular cause. Some folks volunteer just to hang out with friends. And others volunteer because they are really "networking," and this may be a way to get a foot in the door or build clientele or make the right connection.
Confession: I don't really know what makes me volunteer. I have been this way for a long time.
Confession Two: I'm a junkie. A busy-ness junkie. A people junkie.
When I was in high school (back in the Middle Ages), our yearbooks had indexes. Each and every person who was pictured or named n the yearbook for being in a club, or in an event (like a play), or just captured spontaneously, was given a listing and the page number. Most people had four to five page numbers next to their names. In my senior year, I had two and a half inches of page numbers. Good grief!
I got a little out of practice in my 20s and 30s, after all, the world was revolving around me then, right? And yet, is that true? I was a budding actress and yep, most of the parts I played were in community theatre or off-off-off-off Broadway (for free) and so, guess what? Even though it was all self-serving, I was still volunteering. I was giving away my time.
Time is my most precious commodity. I have never been one to have a lot of coin. Perhaps we live more comfortably now that we did thirty years ago (gad, I've been married a long time), but money has never been our most plentiful resource.
I'm not really alone. There are a lot of people who have the same compulsions I do: they put out fires, they make crafts for teachers, they empty bed pans, they hand-feed abandoned kittens, they stand at booths, they make phone calls, they visit the sick, they fold bulletins, they mow the neighbor's grass, they read to children, they tutor students, they give tours, they take tickets, they sell concessions, they coach teams, they build costumes, they sing, they act, they draw, they paint, they write, they speak, they sell, they dance, they show up!
I have been blessed with a number of natural talents and gifts. I'm a lucky one. I love to get in front of people and talk or perform. I love to write. I like people (all kinds). I have a lot of energy (so far). I love puting on a show... a party... an event. I love helping people make discoveries. Sometimes, I get to do these things at work and get paid for it. But honestly, most of the time, it's my life outside of work that uses a broader range of who I am.
Everyone has gifts that can be used on a volunteer basis. There is no hierarchy in the real world of volunteerism: all jobs have value depending on what is needed, whether it's preparing a mailing or selling raffle tickets; each job adds up to a whole. Since each of us has only 24 hours in a day, when one of us gives an hour or two or even more, it is a true gift.
There is only one thing a volunteer generally needs and that's appreciation. Since I have given my time to all things Havre de Grace (church, community, and work), I have felt more appreciated than ever before.
I would encourage each and every one of you to thank your closest volunteer, at church, at the club, at the activities center, at the library, or at the ball field.
Volunteers are everywhere: friends, neighbors, and strangers. Thank YOU.