What will it take for you to volunteer?

Published 12:00 am Monday, April 3, 2006

Why don’t more people spend time volunteering? Heck, why don’t I volunteer for anything?

It seems like I’ve been writing a lot of stories lately about various organizations n United Way, Meals on Wheels, American Cancer Society n or taking pictures of clubs and societies donating time and money to charities.

One thing I’ve noticed about almost all of them is that those involved are a) a bit older (than me anyway, so, not in their 20s), and b) the same people!


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The people that volunteer in this city have their hands in a variety of groups and activities, and I see the same faces all over the place.

Where is everyone else?

In a city of about 76,000 people, why do I see the same 100 (that’s a major estimation, but from my point of view, it seems about right) doing everything? I could name names, but I don’t want to risk embarrassing anyone n although they all certainly deserve the recognition.

My excuse would be time; but the more I try to use it, the lamer it sounds and the guiltier I feel. I’d bet that most everyone else would cop that one, too.

Granted, many volunteers are retired people, but even they pack their days (and, occasionally, nights) with volunteer work, whether it be in the schools, coordinating Daffodil Day for cancer survivors or fundraisers to keep museums like Riddick’s Folly afloat.

However, just as many are people who work 40-hour-a-week jobs (likely more, considering today’s society) and still find time to devote to these same causes or others, like their church.

Does it just boil down to having a certain kind of nature or personality? I don’t think so. I’ll use myself as an example.

In high school I’d say I did a bit for people in my hometown. I helped coordinate food drives at Thanksgiving and raise money to buy gifts for needy children at Christmas. My senior year I’d spend one afternoon a week visiting the nursing home, the school for the mentally/physically handicapped, Headstart and a business that employed adults with mental and physical disabilities.

Granted, all that altruistic work was through my high school. Yes, I was supposed to do it; but I can honestly say I enjoyed and looked forward to it.

My first year of college I spent the summer volunteering at an animal shelter cleaning cat litter boxes and socializing the animals.

Then, I just sort of slipped away from volunteerism. Not intentionally, but I just became, well, for lack of a better word, self-absorbed.

There, I said it. I became, and surely still am to an extent, self-absorbed. Partying with my friends in college, spending time with my boyfriend (now husband), and preparing and searching for a career became my biggest priorities. Now that I’ve got the husband, the home (well, apartment), friends and a career, I have had some time to take stock.

Yes, I donate money to various charities throughout the year, but it doesn’t feel like it has as much of an impact as actually getting out there and getting my hands dirty.

Mentally, emotionally, spiritually, I am ready to do it. Now I’ve just got to find the means that is right for me, and I’ll dive in.

What is it going to take to get you out there?