Today is the last day of National Volunteer Week 2011. It has been a week dedicated to celebrating volunteers and the contribution their actions have made to make the world a better place. Whether you volunteer on the other side of the world helping children in Africa or spend time at your local park picking up garbage it is time and energy put towards a good cause that makes an impact on our planet.
The tagline for National Volunteer Week is “Passion. Action. Impact.” The perfect words that represent the true core of what volunteerism is.
I’m travelling on business this week and knew I wouldn’t have the time to do what I thought volunteerism was until I got an email from a fellow blogger friend last night that reminded me of my volunteer work I do every day. It’s called 365give.
Day 198: Give 198
I have been away from my home town of Vancouver almost all week. I am in Toronto for business (my paying job) with back to back meetings and trying to squeeze in a little time with old friends I don’t get to see very often. I knew it was National Volunteer Week but could not possibly find a few hours in my day to dedicate to a specific not-for-profit organization and get my volunteer hours in for the week. Sound like anyone you know? Don’t we all wonder how we can find the time in our busy lives to spend helping others or our planet with life’s hectic schedules and big expectations?
It was around midnight last night and I was still up working when I got an email from a fellow blogger by the name of Jessica who has a great sight called Jessica Journey. Jessica is a not-for-profit marketing and fundraising guru and we have made a great connection through the work we are both doing. Jessica sent me a message reminding me it was National Volunteer Week. I was sad to admit I didn’t have the time to volunteer this week and post about it in hopes to inspire jus tone other person to volunteer. Here was her response to me:
“I hear you loud and clear on the time crunch in the competing professional and personal priorities! I was thinking about the volunteerism for the different opportunities that you offer your blog readers. I think you go above and beyond in how you impact our community through your passion for non-profit causes. You are a gift to the world! Inspiring others’ giving… ”
It wasn’t until that moment, after 213 blog posts and 197 different “gives” did I realize that 365give is volunteering in so many ways (I don’t get paid a dime to do this project). It was my Oprah “ahhha” moment. I don’t think of 365give as “volunteering” everyday. It is my passion for giving that drives my actions which is ultimately creating impact in the world in many different ways.
Passion. Action. Impact. The tagline for National Volunteer Week. I realized that I love what I do so much both professionally as a fundraiser and personally through 365give that I don’t consider it to be over and above the “call of duty.” I don’t put myself in the same category as some of my guests like Carli’s Kids, a women that has opened an orphanage for street kids in Africa or Calista Cares, an 11 year old that is granting wishes to medically challenged children and the remarkable post just yesterday from Elizabeth Angel who is working with Youth Insight teaching children in Africa to believe in themselves. The list could goes on.
The beauty of being a volunteer is simple. It makes you feel good. It makes you happy. It makes you feel like you are part of something bigger than yourself. As much as you are giving to others the gift is truly in what you receive by volunteering. Over my lifetime I have spent endless hours volunteering with the homeless and hungry, assisting families that needed everything from food to furniture, used my expertise raising thousands of dollars for not-for-profit organizations, sat on volunteer Boards and even cleaned up garbage in my park. But it’s never been out of obligation or because my name was put in a newsletter or article. It was because I love getting my hands dirty, rolling up my sleeves, and using my brain to make the world a better place.
Think about it today. Find something in your life you have done to give back and give yourself a pat on the back. If you have a friend that is volunteering give them a pat on the back, send them note, give them a tweet of appreciation for what they do. And if you can’t find something you have done – go do something today. Clean up your local park, feed a stray dog, recycle, read a book to an elderly person, spend a few hours at a soup kitchen. Find the thing that works for you, that fuels your passion. We all have it in us. We all have the love and compassion it takes to give so go and find that inner volunteer and send me a note so I can give you a pat on the back or jump up and down and cheer you on.
Time Commitment: endless hours of passion and happiness