Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Time Well Spent - Volunteer!

On this blog i’ve talked about what we can do to enjoy our lives. To see and experience things we haven’t tried before or maybe not for a long time. But now i’d like to suggest something near and dear to my heart – volunteering. If you rolled your eyes when you read this, don’t worry; i did too for most of my life. I had in my head that volunteering was boring. Stuffy. Like filing books at the library or stamp collecting. It just didn’t have that zing that i thought i was looking for. Ha! I love it when i can surprise myself.

Sometimes it seems we’re already stretched to our limits with lists of “things to do,” many of which are never finished. You never feel there’s enough time. Or maybe you wonder why you should give away what precious little time you have – for free – to someone else; let some other sucker give it away. Even the most open of hearts can feel this way sometimes. We are pulled and pushed in so many different directions that just the idea of one more thing to do will send us over the edge. Yet we will make enough time to chat on Facebook or Twitter for hours. Or mindlessly watch whatever happens to be on TV for most of the evening.

Enrich Your Life
Despite what some might think, volunteering is not altogether an altruistic act. At least not completely. When you volunteer, you suddenly have a whole world of information open up that was previously not accessible. If you like learning new things, volunteering can be a great way to re-discover your inner-child. Like a great teacher it offers intellectual and hands-on learning. The best of both worlds.

I’ve found another benefit to volunteering. Camaraderie. This, even more than learning, is a huge factor in the warm and fuzzy feeling i get about volunteering. Humans are such social creatures. Being with other like-minded people is such a boost to our need for community. The time spent together working on a project connects us heart and soul to what is best in the human spirit.

Obviously, many of us like the idea of volunteering because we truly like helping others. The opportunity to help and contribute to the community in a positive way makes us feel good about ourselves. It gives us a place to belong and a reason to be a better person. And that’s addicting. One of the few addictions that won’t cause weight-gain, isn’t illegal, and you won’t be embarrassed about telling others.

The other great thing about volunteering – you make your schedule. Do as much as you want. Organizations that rely on volunteers are overjoyed with whatever you can give. So there really isn’t a downside to being a volunteer. It’s all good. If there’s something you like or are interested in, there’s probably a volunteer job out there that will fit the bill. Whether you want to work with animals, medical & disaster preparedness, museums, environmental, schools, sports, the homeless, or children’s services, there is a niche you can fill.

Where To Go To Volunteer
There are many, many centers over the greater Sacramento area that take volunteers. Most cities have a volunteer page on their websites but almost all organizations have listings on Volunteer Sacramento – an all-in-one site of information. There is also the Volunteer Center of Sacramento and Hands on Sacramento that have excellent suggestions and contacts for volunteering. So take a moment and ask yourself, “What do i have a passion for?” Now get out there and volunteer!

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