My earliest memory as a volunteer was when I was 8 years old living in Eureka, California. Our church had a firework stand at the Payless Shopping Center and I was given an opportunity to serve as a cashier. I remember how good it felt to count change and to work alongside so many adults raising money for the church youth activities. Over the years, I have volunteered in one capacity or another whether selling Scout O Rama tickets for BSA, walking in the March of Dimes Walk for Humanity, or the many service projects our church youth organization held.
Volunteerism has been a passion that has followed into my adult life and I find great personal satisfaction by taking time to give back. As society recognizes the week of April 15th as National Volunteer Week, I have again paused to reflect on the number of projects and organizations I have supported in the past and currently support today. One thing I know for sure is that there is no shortage of worthy programs to support. Whether programs geared to help our youth, seniors, disabled veterans, or homeless, the list is quite extensive and the need is great. Anyone can serve.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said “Everyone can be great because anyone can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t even have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace, a soul generated by love.” Spending time serving others has a dual benefit. First, you give your time freely to an organization that can use your talents. The second benefit, which you will have to experience to believe is the feeling of humble gratitude you feel inside when you serve others.
Last weekend a dear friend was invited to attend a Spring Hog Hunt organized by the Halo Wounded Warrior Program in the Dallas/Fort Worth Area. She had never attended such an event, but once there jumped right in as a volunteer helping wherever she could. First task was helping to serve these wounded heroes lunch. Next she worked at the firing range running errands back and forth helping any way they needed. During the course of the day, my friend was introduced to so many attendees and their stories and their no quit attitudes profoundly changed her. She found these wounded warriors, our heroes, to be full of optimism and positive energy and she further told me that regardless of what was happening in her life that she had absolutely nothing to complain about. Her life was touched by the example of these wounded warrior heroes.
As National Volunteer Week winds to a close, I ask the following question. How do you give back and who do you volunteer your time to?
May you find joy in providing volunteer service to others.