The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the grandest intention. ~Oscar Wilde
Many people volunteer because they feel like they have to or they are forced to. Volunteerism should be something that you want to do. It has been said many times, but the old adage is true, volunteers are the lifeblood of every non-profit organization or cause. These agencies are all highly dependent on compassionate and dedicated members of the community to help raise funds and keep their organizations sustainable. The best part about volunteering is that there is no age limit. The volunteer base of many organizations ranges from school-aged children to seniors. As long as you have the desire and commitment to do something good for your community, there are no excuses to not get involved with a community organization.
One of the great misconceptions about volunteering is that it is too time consuming. It’s up to you to determine how much or how little you’d like to get involved with a non-profit. Most of us are busy with our careers, family, and other aspects or our daily lives. After a busy week of working and driving the kids to different sporting and social activities, our spare time becomes very special to us. We crave that time where we can relax and kick up our feet. To have a successful volunteer experience, you aren’t expected to join every committee, attend every fundraiser, or spend countless hours working on projects. How much you want to become involved as a volunteer is completely up to you. Your time volunteering with a non-profit organization can be as simple as helping to set up and tear down before and after events. If you feel uncomfortable being asked to do certain things, you always have the option to decline.
The key to having an enjoyable volunteer experience is to associate yourself with a cause that speaks to you, something that is of importance to you. Many people are skeptical of charities as they are unsure as to exactly where there donation go or what the organization really does. By volunteering, you will get to see what really happens behind the scenes and what a constant struggle it is for these groups to stay relevant in a crowded field of charities competing for the public’s attention and donations. Volunteering is something that should make you feel good and fill you with a sense of pride and accomplishment. While you may feel like just a small piece of a much larger puzzle, your efforts and commitment do matter.
Working with animals is one of the great passions of my life. During my tenure with the Niagara Falls Humane Society, I was able to witness cats and dogs that I had written about or brought to a school for a vast find their forever homes. Perhaps my articles or visits contributed to their adoption or perhaps not. Regardless, I was part of something that was incredibly moving and meaningful to me. It is actually quite empowering to be the voice for those who cannot speak for themselves. I have always been on the shy side yet there I was, speaking to a diverse group of people about the shelter and its precious animals. I also got the opportunity to be interviewed on the radio and by a newspaper outlet. It was nice to receive accolades from my fellow volunteers and staff members about my work, but for me, it was and always will be about the animals. I preferred to stay in the background and to give them all of the attention that they richly deserved. And no paycheck can buy the enormous sense of satisfaction that I experienced every time an animal left the shelter for a happy, new life.
Not every volunteer experience is going to be the right fit. It may take a couple of attempts to find an organization with which you can flourish and when that happens, you will find qualities in yourself you never knew existed.
Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. ~Leo Buscaglia