When people hear that not only do I go to school full-time, work, and be involved with organizations on campus, they ask me how in the world do I have time to volunteer? Why don’t I just stop volunteering until my life is easier and more relaxed? You don’t need community service for a class, right? So what’s the point?
Some high schools and colleges require community service. Generally, that’s a great idea. But then these organizations get “volunteers” that don’t want to be there. If they were not being forced, you’d never see them enter the shelter or serve meals to the homeless.
And sometimes, these forced opportunities are EXACTLY what someone who may be too shy to reach out to ask to volunteer needs. They want to make a difference but didn’t know how to go about it.
Growing up, I was super shy. Those of you who know me now probably can’t believe it. You see me as this bubbly person who tells you you’re beautiful when we pass one another in the halls. I broke out of my shell by volunteering.
Before I truly understood the definition of a volunteer, I embraced that role. My hometown’s fire company would have a yearly Easter Egg hunt. I would rather help set up, hide the eggs, and pass out snacks and prizes to the kids – even the ones older than me!
As I got older, I would spent my nights at my hometown carnival. Except I wouldn’t be walking around with all my friends and playing the carnival games. I’d be helping the firefighters with their stands, filling in so they could go on their breaks or when they had to run out for a fire call.
Once I transferred to Moravian, I knew I wanted to do something productive on my weekends on campus. I didn’t want to party on Saturday and nurse my hangovers on Sunday. I joined a service sorority. I knew absolutely no one, but they boasted about how they all had a love for volunteering. By joining, I made my first true friends on campus.
For years I had the idea of volunteering at an animal shelter, but I could never find anyone to go with me. Knowing I had already stepped out of my comfort level by joining a sorority, I figured I was brave enough now to volunteer on my own. I reached out to a local animal shelter and became a bunny volunteer. I was honest in my application about not knowing a thing about bunnies but I was willing to help and willing to learn.
Every Sunday, unless I’m off traveling, I spend my time at the shelter. And I’ll never give it up, unless it became absolutely necessary. Those that have come with me, understand. It’s therapeutic in a sense. These animals look to you to take care of them and your reward is an hour+ cuddle session with these cute little creatures. No matter how stressed I get about assignments, all of that is temporary forgotten.
And that’s how I feel about all the volunteer opportunities I have participated in over the years. Volunteering is not only beneficial to me because I can step out of my busy life, but I am also helping to improve the lives of others. I help raise money so a family can financially afford costly medical bills. I help the bunnies get a second chance; help them learn that not all people are bad. I do food drives so those who can’t afford to go grocery shopping can feed their families. I fill in for firefighters so they can save your home. I give chocolate milk and Oreos to your 4-year old just to see her smile.
And I don’t do it to write it on my resume.
I do it to hear that the family member was able to come back home. I do it to see a shy bunny run and jump on your lap. I do it so one less child goes hungry. I do it to give firefighters a much needed break. I do it to see smiles on people’s faces.
I do it because I’m human and I care about the world around me.
I am a volunteer.
I am me.