What Do People Think Of When They Think Of Volunteers? Some of the words that come to mind are kindness, compassion, enthusiasm, necessary, irrepressible, magnanimous, angels, lifesavers and heroes. There is such power of any individual giving of their time in service to others. It is so inspiring and influential, it is the under pinning of our community. Being able to have a strong community and making sure that we are proud of the place that we live in. The place we call home. That we take care of one another, it all has to do with building community and making connections. What better way to do that than through volunteerism. Once we step outside things that we are doing to help ourselves and think about what we can do to help others that are volunteering in its simplest form. Volunteers look like me, they look like you. They are the people that you pass everyday on the street.
Life is short. In the scheme of things this is one of the most often quoted sayings. So, it must be true. Our planet has been here for millions of years – our universe billions. On our headstones will be the etching of when we were born and the date when we died. For example it would read: 1960 DASH 2050. What matters to me are not the two years mentioned. It is the dash. That little dash. That’s our life. That represents to me the short time we have, here, to make a difference, or not. And making a difference means so many different things to so many people. But for you, the volunteer, what you do during that dash is most significant.
You can give money, if you really like, you can give it to me money because you think I am a good cause. Say you give a dollar a month. Sure. But I may pay that back to you. It is appreciated without doubt. It is your dollar. However you may want to give it somewhere else because they are more deserving. John Bunyan not Paul Bunyan (no trees were harmed in the making of this quote) has said that “You have never really lived until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.”
But how do we give back time? As a volunteer you give time. Time. The most precious resource in our lives. Look at the dash. How many hours are in there? It’s not billions. It’s not infinite. Money can be printed. Time cannot. Once you give an hour of your time it is lost forever. That hour you just gave volunteering will never be replicated. Your time volunteering must be valued because we can never put a value on that time.
How can you value something that is priceless?
As a volunteer you bring so much too each and every organization you give back too. You give of yourself and bring with you your life experiences, skills, abilities, compassion, intellect and humor and ask for nothing in return yet you receive friendship, appreciation and satisfaction. You volunteer for many different reasons but for whatever reason you volunteer, you provide talents and abilities to give someone hope and strength and the courage to face another day. You do not ask for accolades. You give your time generously without any expectation of reward. Yet, you receive the reward of comradery with other volunteers who you may never have met otherwise. Lasting friendships, social activities and fun may be just some of the unexpected rewards that you gain from your volunteering experience.
But time you give. In our time, you bear the gift of time. You choose to donate the most precious commodity in the known universe. We may count your time in numbers. We may attempt to count your time in cash value. Though such methods have their reasons we will all be “poorer” if we don’t realize that the giving of your time is simply and utterly magnificent.
One of my favorite quotes is “To the world you may be one person but to one person you may be the world.”
You may never know the profound effect that you may have made on a person’s life. A kind word, a gentle touch or a listening ear can mean so much to someone who is sick, in pain or lonely. You generously give your gift of time to make contact, provide support and encouragement and perhaps provide humor to make someone’s day a bit more bearable because you have taken the time to care and to listen.
As a volunteer, retirement can afford you the chance to work on a project or issue that is important to you – simply for the passion of it, rather than for a paycheck. Seniors have a unique set of skills and knowledge to offer as volunteers: a lifetime of experience can help you help others in a myriad of ways, from mentoring and tutoring younger generations, to providing career guidance, to offering companionship and care.