‘Tis the Season to Serve
Every year as fall approaches I become more aware of volunteer opportunities to serve others in our community. Tom’sTurkeydrive, Coats for Kids, Toys for Tots are a few. Serving at a community thanksgiving meal would be another. Seems like this quarter of the year is heavily weighted but we should remember that there is need all year long. Volunteering should be an attitude and not an event.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that in 2011 26.8% of Americans volunteered one hour during the year. Everyone has 8740 hours to spend each year and only a quarter of us spent one of those hours serving someone else. Imagine if everyone gave one hour each year. Wow the organizations that use volunteers would be overwhelmed. Imagine if everyone gave two or three of our 8740 hours to serve. The impact would be substantial.
I know this statistic does not account for all volunteer time but it does make me think.
When I think about opportunities to serve I see two basic types. One is the deliberate planned service. Signing up to serve at a food bank would be an example. The other type is spontaneous such as helping someone with a flat tire or pitching in during a disaster emergency. Having an attitude of volunteerism will affect both. We need to be willing when the opportunity presents itself as well as make the effort to meet the ongoing need.
Many of us volunteer regularly or have done so in the past. Think back to those times for a moment. How did you feel about yourself and humanity right after the experience? I know for myself I often felt that I got more encouragement and lift than the people who I served. The experience is definitely a positive one, I left feeling better than I came. I think this is because it helped me to get the focus off of myself and onto others around me. Serving often makes me more appreciative of my life and blessings.
Ok enough you say, you are ready to spend a couple of your hours on others this next year but you don’t know how or where. First I would look at your relationships and activities in your life. Unless you stay home all day everyday there is some organization that you are involved with. Maybe it is your child’s school or sports team. Maybe it is your church or a local senior center. Once we start looking around the opportunities become obvious. Still can’t find any or want to go further? We have so many quality organizations in Spokanethat are always looking for volunteers. Local food banks, charity organization Volunteers of America, the YMCA are just a few. If you want to learn about many of these opportunities you can contact Directors of Volunteers in Agencies (DOVIA) that helps people find volunteer opportunities. http://www.lendahandspokane.org Their website you can find a comprehensive list of organizations that need your help.
Volunteering is very important to our world. It is positive for both the giver and the receiver and is something that almost everyone can do. So as you think about the next 8740 hours consider spending some of them serving others.