Friday, August 30, 2013


"Those who can, do. Those who can do more, volunteer."

This sentiment, summarizes the spirit of volunteering. Volunteering traditionally considered more as a social service is no longer just that, it has moved on from the realms of social workers to corporate workers. Giving back to the community is the "in thing" today. 

It might come as a surprise to some, that we have all volunteered in our life and many of us continue to do so without even realizing it.  You may not remember, but I am sure in your life time, you have helped an old lady at the grocery store, or maybe helped a friend care for their children or even helped a neighbor during a difficult storm. These are all acts of volunteering, we can call them anything, but it is the selfless act of helping others for no particular benefit to self that is today called volunteering. 

Mankind has been volunteering since the days of cave man of maybe even before. When groups of humans moved together, helped each other and their neighbors gather food, find shelter and stay safe, they were in a sense volunteering for their own kind.  Then came the modernization, the world wars and we forgot about it all. After months and years of seeing the war, again emerged the Nightangels and the volunteering spirit returned. The "feel good" feeling is very powerful and viral too. The smile of a volunteer helps heal the pain of a broken leg or wipe the blood of a wounded knee. Such was the volunteering spirit in the yonder years. Fast forward to the modern world, social work and volunteering became synonymous. When in real world they are very different. 

Volunteering today is hard to see. In these busy times and a wold which is centered around me, myself and my, to get up and spend hours helping a cause for no monetary benefit takes extra effort. People volunteer for different reasons: maybe to build a resume, gain career experience, explore opportunities at a lower risk, build a network in their chosen career or maybe to climb the social ladder while helping the less fortunate. There are a handful of folks out there who volunteer because of the values instilled in them. Some of us have seen our parents give back to the community so volunteering comes naturally to us. 

What is your reason to volunteer or not volunteer? 

My reason; very simple, I wanted to know more.  My domain of volunteering is restricted to the school my kids go to. Volunteering did not come naturally to me.  Honestly speaking it was an alien concept.  But then I took a step forward, because I wanted to see what happened in a kinder class room. And the rest is history. A few days in the classroom volunteering and following directions of the teacher, I was amazed to see how much effort goes into teaching the little ones. It was impressive to see the knowledge and skills that the kids grasped in a short period and it was even more mind boggling to see the behind the scenes effort that the teachers put in to teach the basics. Before I volunteered, all I saw was the few sheets of homework that came home.  

Volunteering is also infectious, if you are surrounded by people who are selfless volunteers, chances are you will be infected by the bug very quickly. I know I was. It has been 7 years now that I have volunteered at different events in the school and every time, the joy of knowing that I did my part takes all the tiredness away. The thrill of being a partner in my child's education and not just a by-stander is motivation to come back and do it next year. Sure not all efforts are rewarded equally, there are always a few parents who complaint and find mistakes, but then I think of them as the entertainers, they keep the atmosphere alive and in a sense push us volunteers to do more.

If you have never volunteered before, your child's school might be an excellent place to start.  The rewards and gratification are instant. You will be helping improve your own child's learning experience in addition to hundreds of other kids too. The best part, your child will proudly acknowledge that his mom or dad made it happen. 

Many say volunteering does not pay. I disagree, it does. Volunteering has made me a better person.  

Volunteering takes up time, effort, lots of energy and sometimes even money. The resources available to a volunteer are limited, the glory is not there so why would one even go on these rarely travelled roads.  Well, its a personal thing.  If you wish to see the world a better place, you got to do your part. Sure there will be roadblocks, but that's no reason to not try.

If you are thinking what's in it for you, there are many reasons. For starters, you'll make some amazing friends. Friends who you may not know as a family, but yet they will be friends for a lifetime.  You will see "the other" side of the picture and gain a better understanding of the cause and the situation. In addition to making a difference and gaining self confidence most importantly you will be building a community and leading by example. 

To volunteer or not is your decision, and regardless of what it is, do your part. It takes a few minutes off your busy schedule and gives you the opportunity to slow down and you might surprise yourself. This slow and less sought after adventure might just be what you need to feel alive again.  

No comments:

Post a Comment