Volunteer – Serve Today for a Better Tomorrow
Yes, life is hectic, and things pile up quickly. We all have jobs, children, family, bills, obligations, and the list goes on and on. I recently had a truly odd conversation about serving in our community, which struck a nerve. I don’t think that the person who was asking the question realized how offended I was, and before I said something I would regret, I stopped and thought about it from her perspective. Why do you waste your time serving without pay? Why spend your entire Saturday working for kids who won’t even probably remember you tomorrow? The questions were interesting, thought-provoking, and, dare I say, bold. It got me thinking.
There are so many organizations that serve the homeless, foster children, underemployed, addicted, mental health challenged food insecure, and more needy groups of people. As our world has spun a bit more out of control, the need for volunteers to serve has climbed in record numbers. Here on the Suncoast, many of those that give their time and energy are at retirement age, and often I am nearly one of the youngest in attendance at various functions, which is crazy because I’m no spring chicken. I wonder if the servant leadership and compassion that seemed embedded in me from birth might be lacking or no longer as bred into the coming generations.
Why do we serve? For me, it is so I can look myself in the mirror today and know that I did something, not just about me. I served someone or a group of someone’s that have less than me and helped improve their plot in life. They can now go home and enjoy what they receive and, in many cases, turn and do better themselves. Mostly, I serve because from a young age; both in church and in my jobs, I had amazing role models that talked about servant leadership.
Leaders in this world are not the people that get paid big bucks to manage teams. A true leader is someone that can inspire and rally others to follow them. Servant leadership was always explained to me as something you do to serve others and no purpose of your own. I was also one of those food-insecure kids and someone gifted in my childhood with so many blessings from those who served my community. Today, I serve to pay that servant leadership forward in many ways. My passion is kids, so most of my efforts you will find in foster care and other children-oriented organizations. I also do hold to the theory of finding your passion, your soapbox issue, and then engaging in a manner that feeds that part of you. If you love and thrive in serving in areas you are passionate about, you will stick with it longer and feel more satisfaction from your efforts.
Know that when you serve others in our community, the feeling you get is even better than how they react. I was helping with an amazing organization recently that serves the foster kiddos in our area, and all the volunteers were sitting around recounting their favorite moments with a kid or family. One lady said, “that story just gave me goosebumps,” and as I looked around and realized that every volunteer there felt that story in their hearts. The kid we were talking about was so appreciative of the gift we gave them, but in return, we all left feeling lighter in heart and spirit.
We all need to find causes close to our hearts and serve. Fill your cup full of joy, gratitude, and amazing stories by volunteering and serving in your community. The best part is what you give is richly received, and what you gain is frequently so much better than you could imagine. In a world where things might look bleak, we can’t give up on serving or volunteering until things get better. Instead, jump into the fray and be part of the solution forward. One tiny effort by each of us grows to be a large force of change. Most importantly, take kids and grandkids with you. Teaching at a young age to serve and volunteer in the communities we live in will be a valuable lesson to benefit future generations.
Our community needs people to serve in so many sectors, and I hope that everyone finds some cause that speaks to them to give back of time, talents, and resources. We can all make our world a little better, one service moment at a time.
Thank you, Suncoast, for all you do!
Photos courtesy of Deposit Photos