National Volunteer Week is meant to celebrate those that volunteer their time to better a community or organization. Volunteering, in any capacity, is vital for the continuation of many programs that lack the funding to have a full staff. Many of those programs serve the community in different ways that help those in need.
I’ve been fortunate enough to volunteer for many organizations for several years.
My volunteer work started in middle school when I had to do a couple hours to go on a school trip. It didn’t feel like a chore to me at all, but then again I volunteered at the local animal shelter where I got to play with cats and dogs (and puppies) for a couple of hours.
Volunteering continued in high school and as a graduation requirement, I had to perform 40 hours of community service. I did an array of things to get those 40 hours. I tutored, I assisted with the elementary school cheer program, I aided at local events and I helped the Grand County Water Information Network test our local lake and river water. I did other odds and ends of course and exceeded the 40 hours which genuinely made me feel good. I enjoyed doing the work and seeing that my assistant in simple things made the world of difference.
When college came around volunteer work went to the wayside and wasn’t a priority for me. Jump to my second year, spring term when I was introduced to Alpha Phi Omega, an international service fraternity focused on serving the community. I pledged, I initiated, I grew. I fell into the pace of volunteering all over again. Even though the group only required 20 hours over the course of 10 weeks, I always went above and beyond and within a year I achieved my goal of reaching over 100 hours of service.
Since graduating I’ve been able to continue volunteering through my local high school. As a former student, I’ve gained more respect for those that volunteered during my time that made athletics and trips a reality. As a current volunteer, I see first hand the effects that programs have and how appreciative students are for what you are able to do for them to successfully run week-long river trips and successfully play out a full sports season.
Volunteering is very much a lifeline for many organizations to function properly. Without volunteers, my high school wouldn’t have an Adventure Education program. Without volunteers, cities wouldn’t have aid services for the homeless. Without the volunteers that drive for Meals on Wheels, there wouldn’t be hot meals for seniors that are unable to cook for themselves. Without volunteers, shelter animals would sit in cages 24/7.
Volunteering even once a year for something in your community can make the world of difference. Volunteering on a weekly or monthly basis makes for an even better community. Volunteering not only helps those that are receiving the aid, but it also helps you gain a new perspective. Without volunteers, I think our nation would be a lot different.
I volunteer because I know someone, somewhere that is directly affected by what I am doing is overly appreciative. I volunteer because someone before me was able to volunteer and make my experience all that much better. I volunteer because it makes me feel good. I feel proud to be an active volunteer and I think everyone should find something they are passionate about and find a way to volunteer.
National Volunteer Database: https://www.nationalservice.gov/serve/search
Even a simple Google search of ‘volunteer opportunities near me’ will give you ample results to chose from.