This is a shout out to all of the volunteers in the world. I’m so glad to have so many of my friends in as well as outside of my church home with volunteer’s hearts. I have met THE most phenomenal, hard-working, and caring people. I have come to realize over the many years that you’re either in it for the love of what you are doing and the cause or outcome, or you probably won’t last very long. I have volunteered in many different ways my whole life, and honestly can’t imagine not doing it.
Social media being so prevalent, I have noticed on different posts some comments that suggest volunteers must not have anything better to do, or that we’re lazy (which doesn’t even make sense), that we’re wasting our time because we don’t get paid for it, or how we probably don’t even have jobs. (I see that last one especially when it is a protest for some kind of social justice issue for better or more human rights.) For what it’s worth, many — but probably most — volunteers have jobs, and still find time to make the world a better place and take care of issues that they love and are meaningful.
I have heard the aggravation or judgement in the voices of non-volunteers (or reluctant volunteers) with the amount of time that might be spent volunteering and not getting paid for work done. I am sure that every volunteer would love to get paid something if that was even a possibility, but that generally isn’t the case, nor is it the reason for volunteering.
Speaking of getting paid, volunteering is also not like being an employee either, and you cannot treat volunteers like employees — even though sometimes expected outcomes may be similar to that of an employee. The investment is quite different though. There is sometimes great joy in volunteering, sometimes even great sadness, sometimes frustration. Regardless, it is food for the soul and it’s not just the volunteer’s soul that I’m talking about. That is the payment that some can’t understand.
Volunteers often go unnoticed, unrecognized, and even under or unappreciated — not always of course, but it does happen. Volunteers will usually volunteer right through that anyway. Many volunteers are happy being unnoticed even. There is a fine line there, however. If that is the consistent or perpetual case, volunteers will start to dwindle and this is where a lead organizer or organization may wonder why they are having a hard time keeping consistent volunteers. I have even heard on occasion the volunteers themselves being blamed for the lack of volunteers. But I know this opinion is a lack of insight in most cases. Just like any other organizing or management, when you cannot seem to keep a position filled, then it is time to look within, NOT over there somewhere, and examine honestly what is going on.
If I were to give any advice at all on being a volunteer, it would be about two things.1: Don’t allow other people to steal your joy of volunteering. Some people just cannot understand it, but maybe it is just not for them to understand. Whatever you do, and for whatever reason you do it, if it is your joy to be in service, remember that no one has the right to steal your joy of it. The world needs you. Community needs you. 2: To be a volunteer does not require inordinate amounts of time. Not everyone has countless hours to offer or even the energy. You must know that even if all you have is one hour per month, or week, or anything at all that it absolutely makes a difference. So don’t be afraid or reluctant to volunteer if you can’t do it on a regular basis or if you only have a small amount of time to donate. It ALL contributes!
The last thing I want to shed a little light on is that volunteering is a form of activism. A lot of people don’t realize that. But volunteers address needs and shed light on them, they organize around them and cause and get into action.
Find your cause. Share some time. Something you care about needs you.