I confess, unless I’m forced, I rarely volunteer. I’m selfish with my time, and find I resent the pit-stops and delays that interfere. I’m grumbling inside, rushing the conversation, rushing the event, rushing until I’m in charge of my time again. This stinginess is a foible I fight. What’s my solution? I force myself to commit. If I volunteer to read at Mass, I’ll go to church. If I sponsor a community service club, I will volunteer my time. It’s the theory of causality.
Creating habits of good works fosters more good works. Like compound interest, the rewards are tremendous. Here’s an example:
Because I’m reluctant to give up my precious time, I agreed to be the sponsor of an international/community service club at my high school. I oversee teenagers doing good works in the community. Right now we are preparing a visit to a nearby nursing home and give them gifts of clothing and treats. Listen to this “wish list” given to me by the Director of Activities:
Robert, Rm. 203-1 Robert struggles with just about everything due to his health. WWII veteran. He does go to the dining room for meals, but is in his room the rest of the time. Perhaps a nice long sleeved winter shirt or sweats would be nice for him.
Armand , Rm. 204-1 is a very elderly gentleman with no family left, no visitors, he speaks French and gets around the facility quite adequately. He is alone most of the time due to his deafness. He enjoys sweets, cookies and candy,and wears nice sweaters.
Howard, rm. 205. Howard is a recluse, rarely comes out of his room. Watches old movies on his T,V. all day. He is quite alert and not too old. I would recommend munchies, he loves cheese puffs, cookies, etc. He is definitely a junk food junkie
Evelyn- Rm. 207-1 Evelyn has no family. Army nurse from Korean War. She is a lovely woman who is bedridden most of the time due to health. She is an avid reader, reads her bible daily, likes mystery stories, enjoys putting together crossword puzzles.
Muriel, Rm. 207-2 has no family. She recently tried returning to her home but was unable to stay due to health concerns. She also is an avid reader, loves mysteries, works crossword puzzles daily and enjoys candy!!
Virginia, Rm. 208-1 no family. Very active in facility, Hard of Hearing, enjoys snacking, needs perhaps a new sweater, size large, new slip over long sleeved shirt, loves candy without nuts
Victoria, Rm. 208-2 no family. Desperately needs sweats, size medium, likes blue, black or green, avid reader, mysteries.
Bessie, Rm. 210-1, Native American woman, family far away and do not visit her. She used to enjoy beading, wears long dresses and sweaters, size medium
Francis, Rm. 217-1, no family. Works crossword puzzles in her room, likes chocolate candy, no nuts, wears white sweaters, size medium
Sandra, Rm. 216-1, no family. Wears sweats, usually pink or light purple, enjoys snack food, wears caps due to hair loss
Morgan, Rm. 218-2-no family, never married. Vietnam veteran and junk food junky. Watches T.V. and reads. Has a Nook Book. Needs large print books, mysteries. Stuffed animals (raccoons)
Katherine-family is far away. Younger woman, loves to read Nora Roberts and Daniel Steele books
Helen, Rm. 109-2 has little family involvement. She wears blue sweaters, size large.
Brian, Rm. 118-1 homeless, young man, very kind and gentle. Probably could use clothes, wears tee shirts, maybe needs sweatshirt or light jacket. Wears blues, mild colors. Also snacks is an option. Loves movies too. Only 52 years old.
Our student officers have organized the school fundraiser, our members will help shop, wrap the gifts, and deliver the items to the nursing home in a couple weeks. They will spend the morning talking with the residents. One could look at our club and see the practical reasons for doing this community gesture: it is a prerequisite of our school to complete 25 hours of community service in order to graduate. Some members are in National Honor Society, and they must complete 50 hours during a school year. I receive a small stipend. Students’ high school resumes look good as they compete for admission to college.
There’s more to it than the practical reasons. Look at that list! I see veterans, people without families, people alone at the end of their lives with candy as a companion. When we listen to them, it feels good. They cry and we cry when we say goodbye. What happens next? We come back to our meetings and think of other projects to do.
The officers brainstorm and the group completes a year’s worth of international and community service projects. Sometimes we box meals to send to refugee camps or to those who have suffered from a Tsunami or hurricane. We work with Doctors without Borders and raise money to buy chlorination kits for impoverished communities. The result is the same. Giving feels good.
As an individual, giving my time is difficult, but within a group, the synergy makes giving easy.