“You make a living by what you get, but you make a life by what you give.” Winston Churchill
Volunteerism is defined as the policy or practice of giving one’s time or talents for charitable, educational, or otherwise worthwhile activities, especially in one’s own community. The focus of this type of activity is for the benefit and welfare of others with no financial gain and often involves personal monetary contributions.
Historically, volunteerism has been in the life blood of all Americans. Who dumped tea into Boston harbor? Who fought for freedom during the American Revolution? Who ran the Underground Railroad? Who opened the first libraries of the western prairies? Who fought to achieve the vote for women? They were all volunteers!
Are you a volunteer? Are you a blood donor, involved in your Parent Teacher Association, helping others register to vote, leading a 4-H club or Scout troop, coaching a youth sport team, collecting, making, or distributing clothes or other household items to be donated, collecting, preparing, distributing, or serving food to those in need? Then you are a volunteer!
There are many venues for volunteering around the world, especially recently with all the hurricanes, earthquakes, fires and floods. Have you had an opportunity to serve?
There are many positive benefits to both the volunteer and the recipient. It is important to your health. Serving others improves your psychological and physical health. The volunteer feels a personal sense of accomplishment while building physical strength through activity. You gain new experiences and insights that can influence your decisions on a career path and the confidence to accept challenges. These opportunities create connections with people, building relationships that are crucial in a social network. Volunteers feel more loved and happier. You develop compassion and kindness toward others. Character traits like integrity, flexibility, reliability, and willingness to work for the benefit of others will be enhanced. Humility, self-restraint, and gratitude will swell within you. Your willingness to give back and to help others will create better environments for others and create healthier environments and brighter lives for everyone.
In the wake of disasters, Americans always come together to ask how they can help. Today there are lots of needs. Where can you find opportunities? Start with VOAD, the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster. On the local level, organizations like Volunteer Match, Create the Good, All Hands Volunteers and Just Serve are initiatives that bring organizations and volunteers together to do good things for their community.
How can you help? There are three ways you can help. First is to donate money to organizations that are handling relief efforts. Pay attention to their business plans for handling those donations. Second, donate goods. Be sure to check with collecting groups to know what items are needed. Organizations need a secure storage facility and volunteers to help organize and package items. Third, volunteering. The greatest gift you can give is your time. Ask yourself, am I committed, am I cheerful and enthusiastic, am I self confident and self assured? Or do you want to be? Then volunteering can be a great benefit to you and the community you serve.
Billie Nicholson, Editor