Today I am starting something new.
That’s not entirely true. I’ve been preparing for today for months, but I can actually begin.
I’m not really going to elaborate much, but I can say that I’m excited for this new beginning, as I would be for a new job and all that entails, except for the money part. No paycheck with this one. But that’s nothing new for me.
I’m a serial volunteer. I admit it. I like to help people, and I tend to do so without any expectation of payment in return. That’s what helping means, isn’t it? A hard concept for some these days, but I find it easy to do. For me, it’s harder to say no when I should, when it would actually end up hurting more than helping. But that’s a story for another day.
Today I want to celebrate the helpers. Those who see the value in giving with no need for recognition or expectation of compensation. Those who want to make a difference, even when their friends tell them it’s a waste of time. It’s not.
There’s something true and bright about having a goal that is beyond your own self. It doesn’t have to be a big goal, but it usually has nothing to do with you. To work on a project that is for the benefit of people, sometimes those you will never even meet, and have it succeed, is a glorious feeling.
Just because I want to help, that doesn’t mean that I do. Well-meaning volunteer projects have gone off-the-rails as often, perhaps more often, than those that succeed. But that doesn’t keep me from trying. Because each project teaches me a little more about the people around me, I learn what to look for in the future. I learn that smiles don’t mean action. I learn that popularity doesn’t always lend to participation. And I learn that adults argue just like children at times, but we have the ability to forgive as adults if we want to keep growing.
So to the helpers, to the volunteers, to those who extend a hand and try, I want to say thank you. I’m working like you are, trying to do what little I can to bring some light to those who need it. Remember why you said yes in the first place, especially when everyone around you is telling you to quit. If your heart agrees with the naysayers, it may be time to let go. But if it stays firm to your purpose, I support you. What you do matters.
If you don’t have a way to lend a hand, here are a couple of places to start. These are places I’ve worked with or donated to, and I know it is not an exhaustive list by any means. A quick google search of “volunteer near me” will bring up many other options. The first step is simply to find what’s out there and begin.