“Since you get more joy out of giving joy to others, you should put a good deal of thought into the happiness that you are able to give.” ~Eleanor Roosevelt
Volunteering. The ability to be the answer to someone else’s prayer. The ability to do something about those insurmountable problems that communities often face can be a very empowering and satisfying thing to do with your time. There is a power in taking on poverty, crime, blight, sadness and desperation and easing it for someone if only in a small way, can have a huge impact.
It is easy to get overwhelmed with the bad news of the day. So much of it is spoon-fed to us through the media. It might be true that the entire problem of poverty cannot be cured overnight, there are things that each individual can do to ease the suffering others feel in turn it is a powerful and somewhat addictive feeling to know that you played a part in making the world a happier and more fair place to be in.
This time of year with children going back to school there are needs in many communities for school supplies to help low-income children have the tools they need to learn and better themselves. When children have the tools they need and positive support from their community, it makes the community a better place. It gives that child hope and higher aspirations to aim for as they grow into adulthood. People who take the time to have an impact on a child’s life can not only be a major inspiration for that child, it is often said by mentors that they feel they get more out of it because they have a healthy and joy-filled relationship with the strong souls that are the children of low-income families. It is a blessing to allow them some time to able to be children.
Our elders are another group that can benefit from a little care and companionship. I remember as a schoolgirl we would go to the retirement home down the street from our elementary school at least once a month to visit. The lady I would meet with was a retired teacher. I would make her laugh and she would teach me how to say things in Latin. Although that was many years ago, I remember her she always had an impact on me. Because both of my grandmothers lived very far away and her family had to live farther away for work as well, we were a good match. I was able to bring her some happiness while her family was away and she gave me that grandmotherly experience I might not have been able to have if not for her. It was a win-win scenario. So whether delivering meals for people with limited mobility, driving people to their doctors appointments, or simply visiting and helping out one can have a very satisfying experience volunteering.
There are so many ways to give back to community. You don’t have even have to stretch too far out of your comfort zone, just pick something that feels good to you. Coaching youth sports, helping out at the animal shelter, making calls for a politician that you believe in, working in a community garden, donating blood, teaching people while they incarcerated so they can have a better chance at success when they return back to society. There are so many ways to give so many who need help military and their families are another great group to support. So find your place, find your passion, do something, no one can do everything but they can do something.
“What’s in it for me?”, some people want to know. I find that when volunteering many people are able to form wonderful relationships with other great and giving people. I highly recommend volunteering to single people with time on their hands. It’s a better place to meet people than bars. If you are new to a community, it is a good way to begin to be involved in the community and build relationships and feel connected. Giving back and being part of the solution to life’s big problems is a very important part of self-empowerment in order to live a satisfying life. Who knows you might even have fun!