“Volunteering is the ultimate exercise in democracy. You vote in elections once a year, but when you volunteer, you vote every day about the kind of community you want to live in.” — Unknown
“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, What are you doing for others?” -— Martin Luther King, Jr.
By Dawn Onley
There are people who work tirelessly behind the scenes. They prepare food for the homeless. They knit blankets for disadvantaged, premature babies and sing for the elderly in nursing homes. They coach. They plant gardens to revitalize blighted inner city lots and clean up parks. They work in hospitals and libraries and use their proficiency in any number of subjects to tutor.
They are firefighters. They are EMT workers. They teach Sunday School. They take care of abandoned or neglected animals and help to maintain shelters.
They don’t crave the limelight. They are doing this purely out of love.
They are volunteers. They freely give of their time, talents and resources to help make things better. The work they perform every day is vitally important in uplifting our neighborhoods, communities, schools, churches, hospitals, parks, non-profits, and countless other organizations and industries. They make things run smoothly.
This week (April 23-29) is National Volunteer Week. Back in 1974, President Richard Nixon established National Volunteer Week with an executive order. Since then, presidents have commemorated the day with proclamations to recognize and celebrate the importance of volunteers.
Let us all be guided by the example that volunteers give.
Let us all pick a cause that is near to our heart. Any cause will do. Let us commit to volunteering to that cause.
There are so many worthy initiatives, charities, programs, causes that are in desperate need of our time and efforts. Writing a check is great. Gathering clothes and food to donate is wonderful. But actually rolling up our sleeves, meeting people and developing relationships, is priceless. We need each other.
We may never fully grasp the impact we make when we volunteer, but to know that we are blessing others is the best gift of all.