Saturday, April 11, 2009
Thursday, April 9, 2009
The answer is that we can give of our time, our gifts, our skills, our listening ears, our open hearts and our talents. We can roll up our sleeves and get to work, not worrying about the financial end. Writing a check can be far easier than working on a home for Habitat for Humanity, or walking a dog at the local animal shelter, or helping someone learn to read at a literacy program at your local library. Making a donation is a wonderful gift, but what about taking just an hour to read to someone whose sight has left them or volunteering at food pantry? What about just asking an elderly friend if you can pick up her groceries for her? What about mentoring a teenager who doesn't have the family support she should? Even if we can't write checks to fund organizations, we can quietly, humbly, and peacefully make a difference in our very own communities.
When I helped out at the animal shelter, I had an impossible time. I was unable to play with the pets, and not bring them home. I learned that this was not my gift...I couldn't bring myself to walk with, play with and feed these animals and not make them my own. It broke my heart. I was unable to continue volunteering there. And yet, when I mentioned my plight to a friend of my daughter's, a lovely girl who wasn't allowed to have a pet of her own, she was sold on taking over my position. It was not a good fit for me, but it was a perfect fit for this teenager. She was able to fill up her love for animals, for as many hours as she was able to donate, and she understood the path to the door. Even our own shortcomings may lead to conversations that may lead to another's perfect volunteer fit.
Thankfully, my family has long been involved with volunteering in many forums. We've felt as blessed by our contributions of time as we have in our donations to organizations we support. In many ways, my husband's pounding nails at Habitat homes have given him a far greater sense of helpfulness and connectedness to the direct impact for one family, than just signing a check ever could. My son's volunteering to teach younger children to skate at the community's "Learn to Skate" program have afforded him the opportunity to give back the guidance and mentoring he himself was given by older boys. My own efforts have left me immeasurably humbled and honored. Our family has learned the lesson that sounds trite but is true: you receive back a thousand times what you give.
If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else. ~ Booker T. Washington