It is sad to admit that I lived on this Earth for 22 years before I became a regular volunteer. It wasn’t that I never volunteered before, it is just that I didn’t volunteer on a regular basis. My first long term volunteer position was as the editor of our home owner’s association. We lived in a townhouse before we had kids and I did that for four or five years. It was a monthly newsletter so the process was ongoing.

Once I became a mom, I wanted to be involved in every aspect of my kids’ lives. I started volunteering at the school as soon as my daughter hit Kindergarten. Once again, I became editor of the newsletter (damn printing background!) and did that for three years. During the next few years, I started teaching religious education to both my daughters, signed on as a Girl Scout leader and filled in where I could in the kids’ classrooms. As if that wasn’t enough, I offered to take over the newsletter editor job for our new home owner’s association and then make the neighborhood directory. You know the phrase, “If you want something done, give it to a busy person.”? That was me.

I was working part time and raising little kids during this time. It was crazy and eventually, I burned out. I cut back my volunteer time and took a breath. No one needs a volunteer that does a half-assed job because she is tired.

Now I volunteer a little less. I still teach religious ed, but only 10 weeks of the year. I am still a Girl Scout leader. I still work at the schools, but I don’t head any committees. I dropped all the editor jobs, too.

I am trying to find volunteer jobs that my kids can participate in. I have heard of opportunities for us as a family to participate at church, at a pet shelter and a food pantry. I think they need to give back to the community they live in as their parents do. My husband is a big volunteer as well. He has been president of two home owners association (a thankless job!). He coaches five teams during the year; three of which he is the head coach.

I volunteer my time because it makes me feel good about myself, because I am making a difference in someone’s life and because I am thankful to be blessed with a healthy family and want to give back. I have made some wonderful friends through my volunteering – people I would have never known if I was “too busy” to help out.

I leave you with these quotes to ponder…

We are prone to judge success by the index of our salaries or the size of our automobiles, rather than by the quality of our service relationship to humanity.
~Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

A pessimist, they say, sees a glass of water as being half empty; an optimist sees the same glass as half full.
But a giving person sees a glass of water and starts looking for someone who might be thirsty.
~G. Donald Gale

I shall pass through this world but once.
Any good thing therefore that I can do, or any kindness that I can show to any human being, let me do it now.
Let me not defer it or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.
~Etienne de Grellet