Technically, the #atozchallenge is off on Sunday's. But I'm doing two posts, so I guess I'm cheating all around.
National Volunteer week begins today. When I got off work I did some googling and twitter hashtag searching to see what the buzz was on this event. Most of the stuff I found were encouraging people to get out there and volunteer. Yes, that's important. Everyone should volunteer. But uh, let's first appreciate our volunteers.
Volunteers are people who give freely their time and energy to give back to an organization they feel passionate about. The key word in that sentence? Free. Volunteers are not paid. They offer whatever gifts they can offer at no charge to the organization. Anyone willing to do this obviously has a good heart and head on their shoulders.
As a volunteer coordinator I can tell you this: volunteers are amazing people. It doesn't matter their motivation for volunteering, or their frequency. No one signs up to volunteer somewhere because they are Oscar the Grouch 2.0. They do it for a much better, higher reason. Some are trying to better themselves, some just want to give back. But they all have a heart of gold and a true compassion for people.
Personally speaking, I love my volunteers. I once heard someone say "The last good thing that may happen in a person’s life is a hospice volunteer". I cannot agree more. Sometimes all a patient needs is a visitor. I treat them like they are my own children sometimes, I like to make sure they are all happy and I'm proud of them when they accomplish something. I recognize that they have busy lives outside of volunteering, and it is truly an honor that they give up an hour or so each week to service our patients. The cool thing is, they all do totally different things for our patients. Some do pet therapy, some just companionship, some respite for the families, some read, some play music. And they all truly let their gifts shine.
I am blessed to work with volunteers, and it has helped me to learn more and more about people and the way we interact. It has opened my eyes to good in the world, which we all need. So thank you, to "my" volunteers, and to all volunteers across the world who give their time and energy to make a difference in others lives!
Now, to those of who have though "I should volunteer" but have not gotten around to it, what the HECK are you waiting for? There are so many opportunities out there! Here are some ideas for you to get started.
Well, you could be a hospice volunteer-here's the thing about being a hospice volunteer: it's the most fulfilling thing, and yes, it can be sad, but it is also an HONOR and a PRIVILEGE to be in someone's life during the last few weeks/days/months of their life. You will learn so much about life and people, and yourself. They need as much compassion, positive energy, and encouragement as they can get, and you have the opportunity to give it to them! Find your local hospice, call their volunteer coordinator and ask what the requirements are. And if you're in the Michigan/Ohio/Indiana area, you should just call me and we'll talk :) My organization allows volunteers 14 and older in the office, 17 and older to visit patients.
Hospice volunteering isn't your thing? There are SO many other opportunites out there people! I could list 293012931 of them. Instead, I'll give you some sites where you can narrow down what you are looking for.
Get out there people! Speak your love, speak it again, speak it again.
PS: To all my fellow volunteer coordinators out there, I raise my glass to you. Happy National Volunteer Week!