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!