What makes a person choose to volunteer? Honestly, I think about this a lot! Is it a feeling of duty, boredom, or requirement? Is it filling a professional need to build a resume or network? Is it a way for you to teach your children to help others or learn to be more social? It is because you have the time, and why not? Is it simply because you want to help others? There is no wrong answer here! There are so many different reasons why you may volunteer.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a volunteer as "a person who voluntarily undertakes or expresses a willingness to undertake a service." Our volunteers provide a great service for our clients. I often equate "volunteer" to "serve."
Regardless of the reason why a person volunteers, this choice often has very real unintended consequences. For example, a volunteer wanted to be a Senior Buddy and was given a client to help. The volunteer knew that a phone call would happen each week and an offer to pick up groceries or medications would be made. However, the volunteer did not know that a great friendship would result from these weekly contacts. This unintended consequence of friendship lead to additional texting and checking in with each other. It became more than a "have to." It became an "I want to."
Another volunteer chose to volunteer as a driver when her granddaughter was a baby. This baby grew up around our clients and as a result, is very comfortable around all different kinds of people and all different ages. What a benefit to her that she can be social and friendly to people of all ages.
Another volunteer came to us to fulfill a class assignment. However, the unintended consequence for her was the knowledge that she loved hearing the stories from all the varied clients she drove. She didn't know she loved the connection with older people.
Now, if I'm being honest here, volunteering isn't always peaches and cream. Occasionally, we run into someone who may be grumpy or a bit abrupt, or maybe personalities clash. If we can get past that moment, we can still find fulfillment in what we gave.
Something amazing happens to us as we give ourselves to others in the form of time, a listening ear, an extended hand of friendship. We feel renewed, invigorated, happy, joyful. Who doesn't want that feeling?
As a volunteer, you offer hope, friendship, kindness, and love to many who are often overlooked. You are the best people on the planet! So, why choose to volunteer? Choose to volunteer with us and learn what your unintended consequence will be.