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Friday, April 27, 2012

A Short Step up the Soap Box

We held a volunteer appreciation luncheon yesterday.  Since I work for a not-for-profit, the budget is about as tight as a pair of pantyhose two sizes too small, so the value of the folks who give of their time to the elders in town cannot be overstated.  At the lunch the Director commented on how volunteers not only help others, but how through volunteering they develop their own friendships. 
After she said that, I looked around the table where I was sitting.  Three years ago, a few weeks after I’d received my pink slip from my 23-year employer and started volunteering for Elder Affairs, I knew none of the people I sat with yesterday.  Now, not only do I know all of them, but probably 75% of the rest of the 100 folks being honored in the room.  And, I am not exaggerating when I say, they are all nice.

Of course the bonus for me is that although I still volunteer for the organization, I have also been hired in the traditional sense.  But regardless of whether I am being financially reimbursed for the work I do or not, when I am there, I interact with a wealth of upbeat people who think nothing of giving of their time with kindness and empathy and grace.  Because of this, I never leave work grumpy.  And I’ll be honest.   My last professional job?  Yea, you know the one where I made big money?  Well those days were made up of a lot of grumpy.  

I suppose I’ve climbed on a proverbial soap box here, so I’ll say my piece quickly and sit down.  When I was working 8:30 to whenever, sure, I volunteered a little.  I baked cookies, I chaperoned field trips, I did a few things for church.  But mostly my days were filled with the grind of getting everything else done. I considered myself way too busy to step out of my comfort zone to regularly help others.  It took a big old layoff to realize how much more worthwhile I could make my time.

It's just this.  I’m guessing a lot of folks who read this blog know just what I am talking about.  But if you don’t, and you are looking for a way to enhance your life, consider volunteering.  It doesn’t matter if you help seniors, or kids or the disabled.  Coach a team, read to the blind, or serve a meal to the homeless.  Whatever.  Just know in however you chose to give, you’ll find unexpected rewards.

During her speech, our boss used a take-your-breath-away quote.  I’m sorry I don’t know where it is from, but it says it all:

“To the world, you may be one person.  But to one person you may be the world.”

It made me shiver.

Happy weekend all!


Old Kitty said...

It's a lovely quote isn't it?

Bless you fab volunteers! Take care

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I've volunteered for an illiteracy program for several years and now do a ton of volunteer work at my church. I really enjoy it!

glnroz said...

very good quote,,, I feel that folks you have met during this time realize the depth of that quote...

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

Amen. The volunteer work I've done throughout my life has had a much more positive impact on my life (and I hope, on others' lives, as well) than anything I ever did for a paycheck.

Robin said...

Isn't it strange how what we think are the worst things turn into the best things?

Robin said...


Mary the Food Floozie:

Chris at A Deliberate Life:

Shoes at Red Shoe's Chronicles:

Phoenix at Res ipsa loquitur:

Factory Girl at Radical Point of View:

Jasmine at A Yellow Rose of Texas:

Tbose are the HERE'S TO YOU THURSDAY dedications since you couldn't get it to load for you. You can go directly to the source! Enjoy!!! :smile:


'Yellow Rose' Jasmine said...

So amazing what we get when we give of ourselves. Thanks for sharing!

Robyn Campbell said...

I volunteer with OCC. Getting shoeboxes into these kids lives is so important. I love this post, Liza. Stay on the soap box. Don't get down. Volunteering is so important. Where would this country be without it? You're awesome!!!!!! :-)

Carol Kilgore said...

I love that quote, too. I've volunteered a little, but I'm not doing it now. I need to look into what's currently available around here. You have the best of both worlds :)

Yvonne Osborne said...

That's nice. Thanks for sharing.

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

I do a little volunteering and it really does enhance my life.

Mimi said...

I know that quote, and it always reminds me of my babies, you know when they're little and they look at you and you are their world!
I do only a little volunteering at the moment (I am that busy person at this point in my life) but i have volunteered lots, and always feel I get at least as much back as I ever give.
And you're right, it is a great way of making new friends!

Karen Jones Gowen said...

Excellent post!

Sabrina A. Fish said...

My family and I actually did a Walk a Mile for Oklahoma foster kids today and donated suitcases so that a few of those foster kids can have a suitcase rather than a trash bag to carry their belongings in. I think it is important to teach my 5 year old son the importance of giving back at an early age. I hope he continues with it when he grows into an adult.

Great post!

Juliann Wetz said...

I know what you mean about spending your time doing something worthwhile among volunteers who are the lifeblood of any non-profit organization. I traded in my non-profit hat 7 years ago to join the corporate world. (Seems backwards, huh?)

While I enjoy my job and all the opportunities that come with working for a large company, I miss feeling like my days had real meaning, and that I was doing something to change the lives of those affected by my efforts.

Maybe someday I'll join the ranks of volunteerism again. You just reminded me of how much I enjoyed it.

Jan Morrison said...

That is a lovely quote! Volunteering enriches the volunteer immeasurably. I don't consider it neccesarily volunteering but I visit a 91 year old every Thursday for a couple of hours. I've done this for about 13 years now and it gets more precious as time goes by. I've spent some time doing hospice type work - sitting with the dying - and I like that too. The thing is when you're a psychotherapist you are on the give all day long so it is good to do something different with volunteering than your normal life. I always want to do something like Habitat for Humanity but my fella is a builder and he says nunh unh.
Liza - I'm finished my A to Zed - thanks SO much for your support. Now I've got some time to go around to other's blogs and I'm so looking forward to it.

Mina Burrows said...

Well put. I know all to well about the job transitioning thing. You do what you must to keep moving forward. :)

Jennifer Shirk said...

Love that quote too. I don't think people think enough about that and about stepping out of their comfort zone.
Thanks for sharing. :)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Be sure to stop by today Liza - I have a surprise for you!

Tyrean Martinson said...

Beautiful quote and sentiment. Volunteering frees up our hearts and our minds, and suddenly it seems like the world is an easier place to live.

Unknown said...

New follower from Alex's blog. Love that quote.

Martha@SeasideSimplicity said...

I've spent a lot of time in both positions. I can definitely say the time spent volunteering was most definitely more fulfilling that time spent working! I'm another new follower coming over via Alex :)

Cassie Mae said...

"Just know in however you chose to give, you'll find unexpected rewards."

Couldn't have put it better myself. And now... following :) Nice to meet you :)