How many times have we thought that to give is to receive? Well, true volunteers feel that way. They give out of their own need. The need to feel like they are contributing to a greater whole. Without true volunteers the work might never get done.

Volunteerism isn’t something you get paid to do. There are those who go into volunteerism expecting something in return; a political favor, a job, money, lime light, etc. But for the true volunteer – it’s for the warmth and knowledge of knowing you’ve done a good job, and you may have helped another human being, or special cause.

There are so many things that people can volunteer for. You can coach, work with children, visit the elderly in the hospital, make flyers for a campaign, or do surveys for medical services. The list is endless, the need is great.

True volunteers are often overlooked. They might not even let others know they are working in the background. Some people are just givers. They give of their money, and time. Many don’t like to be noticed for what they do. They don’t feel the need to be recognized. They gain from the experience in other ways. That is their reward – knowing they have helped a cause.

When looking at volunteer work, one needs to be committed to staying the course. Sometimes volunteer work can be very emotional for the giver. Working in shelters, helping animals, dealing with troubled youth. Nothing is ever for sure in anything one will do in life.

But there is a lesson in volunteerism. If you do it, and you do the best you can, you will gain self confidence and a reliance on yourself that you may not have had before.

Leaving the “self” out of the formula for volunteerism is the first step
to being an effective volunteer. You might find yourself handing out clothing or standing in a kitchen soup line dishing out food to the needy. Maybe that isn’t your idea of volunteerism. There are other things that one can do. Volunteering at your local K-12 schools to help teachers with projects and field trips. These are areas that also require a different set of skills and emotional awareness. Working with children from K – 6 grade is very different than working at the middle school and/or high school levels. Needs change. Volunteer needs also change.

As we age in life, the things that we once thought important may be better handled by younger people who have the drive and zeal to handle them. Working at a marathon is a good example! Age brings with it a whole different set of priorities and meaning to each and every one of us. As we age and learn more, we begin to seek out organizations like Rotary, sororities, and non-profit organizations that do community service in many different fields. Helping to raise funds to build a park, or a walkway is another form of volunteering. I know many of you may have done volunteer work when you were younger, working at dinners to raise prop money and gym fees. You were part of something – and had fun at the same time.

When you see those ladies and men sitting at the polls during election time, it should be noted that – that is an all day event. You are there from sun up to sun down, and many times later if you are counting ballots. Why do people do it? Because they want to serve. They want to feel that self appreciation of doing a job well done.

Volunteerism has its ups and downs, like all things in life. Sometimes we go into things full steam and believe we can truly help, only to find out that we don’t have the skills necessary to help by ourselves alone. Learning to work as part of a team when volunteering , helps you to overcome some of this self doubts about our own abilities to help others. A team of people that work together, not as a group of unknowns, but rather a team of individuals with the same goal, the same purpose, and the same drive.

Understanding ones own limitations in volunteering is also important. You can’t be all things to all people. You can only be you. You are one. Learning to pick the right volunteer position that will give you the greatest self  appreciation is an art.  But do try. Try often.

Volunteers are what make us a nation. Our greatest virtue comes from the love and support of volunteers all across this nation reaching out and helping others. Truly we are the greatest country in the world. We are great because of our volunteers. Remember our service people fighting in the war: our community leaders who struggle over political issues to make life better for everyone, the fireman, the coach, and the little old ladies who stitch quilts for the family who has lost everything. Every body has a place. Everyone has a purpose. You just need to find yours.

Some people find volunteering in their writings and drawings. Being able to write articles for non-profit organizations or donating a piece of art for an auction. Its all about caring. Caring for others. There is no greater gift you can give than to give of yourself.

Volunteer – you are needed. Volunteers are what make this country great.

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