Herb Schiff (74, USA)
December 5 is International Volunteer Day. Since I have taken more than my fair share of both gentle ribbing and congratulations for doing unpaid labor, I thought I’d say something about volunteerism.
There are many reasons why people donate their time. In my case, it has been because I have found the various organizations for which I’ve worked, fascinating, (and because after I retired my wife needed me to stop being underfoot). Because the organizations fascinated me, I have put thousands of hours into volunteering for them. Hours and some modest expertise is what I gave them. But what volunteering gave me, and will give to anyone who volunteers, is far in excess of what I gave.
Volunteering, by its very nature, puts you in contact with experts in a particular field. You learn from the best, and regardless of the organization, you learn more than you ever thought you could. And there is an immense satisfaction in continuing to learn, regardless of your age. Then there is the satisfaction in knowing that you have, in some small way, contributed to something larger than yourself; that you are a part of a team working toward a worthwhile goal. Then there are the “bragging rights.” When you volunteer, you are recognized as doing something for the community and the world. That gives you a certain status in your community and family that you never get from paid work.
I know literally hundreds of people who volunteer in a wide variety of organizations. In many instances, volunteering has saved their lives, giving them a purpose after a personal tragedy; the loss of a wife or husband. In virtually all instances, volunteers form ‘volunteer families’ with ties as close or sometimes closer than those formed with their actual families. I have a “Zoo wife” and yes, she and my real wife are friends for those of you whose eyebrows just shot up. The point being, lifelong relationships are formed while volunteering.
And finally, volunteering is something that you may be able to continue to do well into old age; and those of us of a certain age know how critical it is to stay involved and alert as we age.
Volunteering keeps you interested in life, gives you a purpose outside of yourself, and, in general, enhances your life and the lives of those around you. Volunteer. It’s good for all of us.
#IVD #IVD2016 #IVD2016Armenia #7daysofgiving