“Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.” – Theodore Roosevelt
Volunteering can be as much a selfish endeavour as a selfless one. Over the past couple of years, I’ve had the privilege of volunteering at a local organization that supports the homeless. I decided to start volunteering when I began freelancing full-time because I figured that if I was making my own schedule, I should make time for it. Unfortunately, a sense of duty and guilt drove me to volunteer, not an intention purely from the heart.
During the volunteer orientation, each person in the group was asked why he or she had chosen to volunteer, and most of the answers were similar to mine: “I feel like I should.” “I finally have time for it.”
What I didn’t expect was how much I would personally get out of volunteering. Serving others is truly one of the most humbling experiences out there. There were days when I would dread going – if I was having a bad day, I felt that there was no way I’d be able to listen to others talk about their problems. But every single time, the people I saw put my life into perspective and lifted my spirits.
Volunteering provides a kind of fulfillment that even a successful career can not. Building relationships with people and helping those in need is really what life is all about. And it doesn’t have to take much time. Even just an hour a week can make all the difference in your life and the lives of those you are serving.
Sadly, I’ve had to say goodbye to the place I’ve volunteered at for the past couple of years, but I’m excited to explore new opportunities. Volunteering has helped boost my confidence, has given me a new perspective on the things I’m grateful for, and has helped me approach my work and relationships in a more positive way. The gains far outnumber the sacrifices.
And why not try volunteering to mentor someone in your industry? You just never know who might remember your generosity down the road.
This week’s goal: Refuse to feel constrained by previous choices.
Song of the week: “Home Again” – Michael Kiwanuka.