As an adult, I have gained even more respect and admiration for my parents, as well as the intention of volunteering. Thinking back to how much they struggled themselves, and how willing they were to give to others, while raising an active family, really humbles me at times. I hear other people say they would LOVE to volunteer somewhere, they just don't have the time. Then I think of my mom, with three young kids, a daycare and various other projects she had on her plate, finding the time to volunteer at least a few times a year, and I call Bullshit to those who "don't have the time"!
I've found a way to volunteer in quite a diverse group of organizations over the years, and my family still volunteers together every year on Christmas day. Currently, due to my life of leisure (aka unemployment) I've been able to volunteer at a local animal shelter/wildlife rehabilitation center, and love it. It's been nice to have somewhere to go and something to do...well, I guess just to feel useful in a time that I feel absolutely useless. I don't plan on quitting volunteering now that I have a job because the place that I volunteer really allows for an education about all the different animals and treatments involved in their care. They give me freedom and trust with feeding and cleaning up after the animals and really encourage my involvement in many different facets of the organization. Not to mention I get to play with baby animals (not really, but I send them messages of love telepathically).
Recently, I've had a few scheduling conflicts with my volunteer days, and a friend of mine has made a few comments that have really just boggled my mind. Her attitude is that there is no conflict. That I shouldn't even consider the volunteer job because, after all, "it's volunteering...what are they gonna do to you?".
This makes absolutely no sense to me whatsoever. I keep trying to explain to her that just because they aren't paying me, doesn't mean it's not a job. The reasons for having to request time off at a paying job are the same as at a non-paying job...to make sure there are enough people to cover the shift. Just because they aren't paying me, doesn't mean I can just screw them over whenever I want. And why would I want to? Do other people feel this way? Am I crazy to think that this line of thinking is absolutely absurd?
This volunteer job means so much to me. Aside from the fulfillment I get from donating my time to an organization that is dedicated to saving lost, abandoned, sick and hurt animals, they appreciate me. During a time that I was getting no response from the hundreds of resumes I was sending out, they responded. They spent about a month training me and trusted in my competence. They spend time at the beginning of every shift educating me on the different animals, illnesses, treatments, etc. They are taking a huge gamble on spending so much of their time and resources on me. Because apparently, as a volunteer, I could take advantage of them and just up and abandon them, leaving them shorthanded, in an instant.
If volunteering is something you've always wanted to do, DO IT! Contact an organization that you'd want to be involved with and just start with getting some information. But if you really want to do it, YOU WILL! We find the time to watch a million TV shows, and masquerade it as "relaxing", why not get out in the community and interact with other volunteers and actually do something you've always wanted to do! Do it once a year, or once a month or even once a week, no matter what, you can make a difference!