It is better to give than to receive. Pay it forward. Just a sampling of mottos to live by. I have done volunteer work throughout various stages of my life-a candy striper in high school, a counselor at a group home for juveniles in college, a mom-helper at my son’s elementary school. In the past year or so, I contacted a couple of organizations and actually applied for two volunteer positions, including one as a trained hospice caregiver and another at a local mental health facility. I had (naively) believed that I was at a place in my life (and my son’s) where I could sacrifice a few hours a week to help a cause close to my heart. It turns out that many agencies who seek non-paid help require you to commit to certain days and/or times to fit their scheduling needs, which is perfectly understandable. I apparently was putting the cart before the horse (again). While my son is more independent than ever, he still
wants requires my physical presence as his chauffeur, cook, maid, cheerleader and homework supervisor. I had to realize that it is still a bit too early for my time to be completely mine, at least in a structured, scheduled kind of way.
So, without even consciously trying, I found a multitude of other ways to volunteer my time within my community, and often on my own street. The house next door was foreclosed on in late April. Another neighbor and I took care of the mowing and landscape maintenance for the growing season. The family across the street relocated to another state, leaving town with their home still on the market. I have raked leaves, cleaned up flower beds, shoveled snow and picked up various papers that get tossed on the lawn. I spent a Saturday afternoon, along with eight or so other men and women, cleaning a friend’s house so that she could return home after a stem cell transplant. That same weekend, I assisted in tagging donations collected by a local charity. Week after week this entire fall, I managed to “find” the time to help someone else. It wasn’t the formal volunteer position I had initially sought, but it works. I was pleased (and surprised) to learn that even with my sometimes hectic work and home schedule, I could still carve out the time for someone else.