Once again, I feel very honored that I have been invited back to write a second news piece for Bill’s web site newsletter. Apparently, the first of “Pop’s Perspective” articles was received well enough that we have been asked to submit yet another one.
Lately, I have been made more and more conscience of “volunteerism”, both from a personal viewpoint as well as a general awareness of what volunteering is all about. With that said perhaps we should put forth a formal definition or two pertaining to the subject. A “Volunteer” may be:
- A person who voluntarily offers a service or undertaking and does so willingly and without pay.
- A person whose actions are not founded on any legal obligation to act and is neither legally nor morally bound to do so and expects nor is promised any remuneration for the services performed.
Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, states that “Volunteering is generally considered an altruistic activity, and is intended to promote good or improve human quality of life, which in return produces a feeling of self-worth and respect, but no financial gain”. And at the same time, those who are volunteering may be seeking non-financial gains such as helping to develop a specialized skill set, enjoying socialization and making contacts for possible use in networking towards another goal.
While we could discuss the history of volunteerism in great depth, suffice it to say here that early charitable organizations existed to help people in need. As our country grew and matured, through the Civil War years and later, more and more organizations were founded to assist those finding themselves in need. Then, in the first few decades of the 20th and 21st centuries, additional volunteer organizations sprang up and through efforts such as the Peace Corps in the ‘60’s and the War On Poverty in ‘64 additional opportunities for volunteers kept growing. Now, as we know, there are literally hundreds of formal volunteer organizations as well as many informal or ad hoc opportunities for “people helping people”.
So, from Pop’s Perspective, what’s the point of volunteerism? Well, it’s my feeling that volunteering is important for a number of reasons that benefit our communities as well as the volunteers themselves. In my personal view, people who freely donate a piece of their personal time to do volunteer work are contributing to the community as well as improving themselves. Many volunteers report experiences such as self-fulfillment and the creation of a greater sense of self-confidence and self-esteem. Knowing that the donation of a person’s time has had a positive impact on a person in need or on a community’s enhancement can produce returns never achievable through monetary rewards. People tend to volunteer to make a difference where someone or something needs help or assistance. And there is certainly no lack of opportunities for us to put some of our time to work in a volunteer situation.
And yes, volunteering takes time! But there is a common misconception that any type of volunteering will take all one’s free time. I would like to suggest that we all be resourceful and seek out opportunities for volunteer work that will take very small portions of time yet return big rewards both to the volunteer and the recipient of the work. Some small volunteer acts can be accomplished from home, on the computer, on the phone, etc. while more complex acts may take virtually all of one’s free time. It is a personal choice as
to the quantity of volunteering that one wishes to give – but truly any small bit of work will generally be received with gratitude and will surely help to “make a difference”.
In last month’s Pop’s Perspective I suggested that we might want to concentrate on what is really important to us, that we might want to stop from time to time to be thankful for what we have and to “smell our roses”. So perhaps now is a good time as well to stop to consider what we might be able to “give back” to those individuals or organizations that may so badly need and appreciate our help. While it is true that all of us, for many different reasons and at various points in our busy lives, cannot make the time to devote to volunteering on a regular basis, it’s always a good idea to remember an old saying: “We make a Living by what we get; we make a Life by what we give”.
Thanks for reading and look for another of Pop’s Perspectives next month!