The Value of Volunteering
Previously Published in the Pineapple Post
By Helena Kyle
While mailing a package from a private mailing business, I met a woman, a complete stranger, who was in the throes of volunteering for a charity she is passionate about; she even took dance lessons to compete in the fund raising event for the charity. One of the employees of the business volunteered for the same event last year. They enthusiastically spoke of the upcoming fund raising event. I saw her flyer and asked about it, thinking it takes a pretty brave soul to dance for a fund raising event! During our brief conversation, she learned that I am fairly new to the area. With a heart-warming, illuminating smile, she said the people of the Treasure Coast are quite philanthropic, and this is a wonderful place to live – I couldn’t agree more!
Volunteering gives you the opportunity to do what you are wired to do. I am surprised at the number of professionals I talk with, who after retirement, find that they are passionate about something entirely different than the career they spent most of their life on. No need to wait until retirement to volunteer your natural gifts and talents. It isn’t about your age, or whether you are retired or not, it’s about purpose-driven living. You don’t have to find time to volunteer, it’s something you include in your routine, like brushing your teeth.
One of my favorite hobbies is born from the service of volunteers – knitting. I became interested in knitting when my daughter learned to knit in the second grade. Two retired women, with a passion for knitting, not to mention the gift of patience, volunteered in her classroom once a week; they taught every second grader how to knit.
Benefits of volunteering:
The positive ripple effect: I find it as enriching to my own life as the recipients of my service tell me it is to theirs.
Flexible hours: can be daily, weekly, monthly, or annually, depending on what your volunteer service is about.
Engages you with the ebb and flow of life. If you are in need of companionship, volunteering connects you with others – great way to make friends, too!
Sometimes, a volunteer position might lead to employment. While volunteering in a school library, I was hired to be the librarian, the following school year.
The Treasure Coast abounds with a myriad of volunteer opportunities for people, and pets, too. The following is a sample of the various kinds of volunteer experiences either I, my children, or my friends have been, or continue to be involved with: The Humane Society's Therapy Dog Volunteers; Mothers Against Drunk Drivers; Child care; Elementary School Teacher Aid, Reading Tutor, Librarian Aid; Middle School Math Tutor; Community Children’s Theatre; City Library Board – from board member to board president; Clothes Closet clothing mission: Fashion consultant to help those in need of appropriate clothing for an employment interview. Our dental hygienist goes on medical missions trips to offer oral health services to orphans in developing nations.
A friend of ours is a school teacher, and director of special needs classes at a public school in the U.S., she volunteers for a few weeks during the summer months, at a faith-based school serving underprivileged children in Sierra Leon, Africa. Her husband installs water filtration systems during their trips – they serve in an impoverished area.
There are some volunteer opportunities that are more than providing a service, they are terrific fun, too. Prior to moving to Florida, I volunteered as the annual key announcer for the Special Olympics State Summer games. Seeing the athletes faces light up, when I announced that they are awesome athletes, made for a most heart-warming experience.
Another time, I volunteered for a listener supported radio station as a hostess/greeter (for the volunteers working the phones during fund raisers), and also, as the stations receptionist while they sought to hire a full-time receptionist/office assistant. Never a dull moment behind the scenes at a radio station; it was one of the most fun volunteer experiences ever!
Volunteer opportunities are limitless - the value of volunteering is that it is invaluable.