Volunteering: Part of America’s Past and Future

I have always loved volunteering. In fact, I couldn’t wait until I was old enough to help in as many areas as possible. I was a teacher’s aid in school. I was a candy striper during the summer while I was in high school. I helped out in VBS and Sunday School Classes as soon as I was old enough to do it. Then, think about it–the very nature of attending a church brings out the volunteer in you. You can work in the nursery, teach, help clean, pass out literature, join the music team and well, the list goes on.

So, when I discovered that this past week was National Volunteer’s Week that set me to thinking.  Why do we volunteer? Do we expect to get anything out of it when we do?

Our country has always had a history of volunteerism.

In 1736, Benjamin Franklin created the first volunteer firehouse. Did you know that even today 70% of all firefighters are volunteers?

During war times people have always banded together. Some volunteered to join the military; others formed groups that raised funds or darned socks, made bandages, or whatever needed to be done. We’ve all heard of the “minute men” who were a volunteer militia.

Since then many volunteer organizations have been formed. The ones that come to the top of my mind are the YMCA,  The Red Cross, United Way, Lion’s Club and the Peace Corps. There are hundreds of others.

I think it’s safe to say that how we volunteer changes as America’s needs change. In times of want we seem to know how to come together in a really inspiring way. I am reminded of pictures of the aftermath of 9-11. My brother-in-law, Roy Hervas, was part of a team from a fire department in Schaumburg, Illinois that immediately joined the efforts and went to New York to help the city. This happened all across our country. We do the same thing to communities that are hit by natural disasters. We donate money, food, time. It is one of the things that make America great.

Here are a few of my favorite quotes:

“No one has ever become poor from giving.” Anne Frank

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” Winston Churchill

“A single act of kindness is like a drop of oil on a patch of dry skin–seeping, spreading, and affecting more than the original need.” Richelle E. Goodrich

“The best way to not feel hopeless is to get up and do something. Don’t wait for good things to happen to you. If you go out and make some good things happen, you will fill the world with hope, you will fill yourself with hope.” –Barack Obama

Here are some of the things I’ve learned:

  1.  Volunteering is a great way to meet people.  If you are new in town, retired, lonely, looking for a change, volunteering will bring new people into your life. Bonus, many of these people will have the same interests that you do. I mean, after all, you volunteered for the same organization so you have those goals in common!

    31093396_10102518763839357_1509471281290936320_n
    We had so much fun planning our recent character breakfast! #otpbreakfastclub
  2.  Volunteer work builds relationships. I know this one might sound a lot like the previous point, but it is much more. Many of my best friends are people who I’ve met through volunteering. When you work together towards a common goal there is a certain kinship that is formed. These relationships can turn into connections that can help you find jobs or a best friend. Many times these relationships are like a second family!
  3. Volunteering helps you gain confidence. There is a certain confidence boost in trying something new and achieving success!
  4. Volunteering can help you gain new skills. Interested in learning something new? Many organizations are willing to teach you skills to help you participate in the area of your interest. My son, Daniel, started volunteering at a very young age. Our technical director at that time, Rich Fuchs, spent many hours cultivating a love of all things technical in him. Daniel went on to apply that interest to his life and his career.
  5. Volunteering helps you make a difference. You fill a real need when you volunteer. You make a difference in people and in turn help your community.

At this point you might be thinking….”I thought this blog was supposed to be ramblings about the theater….”

Well, I will be honest, Overshadowed couldn’t exist without volunteers. In fact, Overshadowed is ALL volunteer. Can you believe it?  If I had to count the number of volunteer hours multiplied by the number of volunteers I couldn’t do it. I am so blown away by the generosity of all of them. And still, we need more. We are always looking for ushers, seamstresses, construction help, actors, artists, marketing help, technical workers and in short, more hands. We are so thankful for each of them. Every hour they spend is priceless. So today, this blog is for them. Thank you for your sacrifice. Thank you for believing in the mission of Overshadowed enough to give something so irreplaceable ….your time. Thank you for this community, you have helped build this band of friends that is theater with a difference. Thank you for helping create and inspire. Please don’t forget or grow weary. You make a difference. Thank you!

Do you have any stories about volunteers or volunteering? Or a way a volunteer or volunteering has made a difference in your life? I’d love to hear about it!

Until next time,

Reba

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