Sunday, October 14, 2012

Giving Just Because

Photo by Affinity1
My earliest memory of volunteering began when I was about 15 and my parents told me I was going to spend my summer vacation helping out at Vacation Bible School. I didn't believe I had a choice and I wasn't too happy about it. When giving up my time for free became meaningful I was 19 years old and a sophomore in college. I volunteered for the first time, willingly, with a social services agency that helped parents and children who were infected and affected by HIV/AIDS attend a sleep away camp for 1 week, free of charge. Well, that was over 10 years ago, and to this day I've been back there again and I still can't stop talking about my experiences there. I saw so much. I learned so much. I laughed and worried so much there and after I left. But I also had the most eye-opening, life changing experience that I carry with me to this day.

There are really few words that can express what volunteering feels like. The rewards are immeasurable and I think everyone should have that experience, at least once. In these times it's hard to see the light at the other end of the tunnel; people are out of work, not able to secure work, living with massive debt, unhappy and scared. But if you can imagine taking all of the hours in a day you spend worrying and you channel that into helping another human being see life a little different or you give someone you've never known a new reason to be hopeful about living, it may help you see that there is light at the other end of the tunnel.

I've now been volunteering my time to various organizations, institutions and causes for over a decade and I have a full time job, family responsibilities and I'm starting 2 new companies, as well as I mentor. Still, I feel more gratification in giving back, building communities, bridging gaps among all kinds of people and really just honoring being in a moment of true bliss and passion. And if anyone out there knows me, I thrive on passion. It's better than my favorite brand of Salt N' Vinegar Potato Chips!

When I thought about writing this story,  it was one day after my return from Washington, DC to March on Washington to Stop Modern Day Slavery. It was there I remember what it was like to gather with people from all walks of life for one cause, human rights. I saw young people hungry for making change a part of everyday life. There were people there who give their lives to fight for justice and make change real for people they don't even know, everyday! That could be hard to imagine. But it happens. I saw it and I am a part of it.

This blog serves to create change; change in the way we view ourselves, the ways we think, use language, talk to each other, behave, everything. As 2012 draws closer to the end of the year, I'm contemplating what I want for 2013, and what I want is to have more people than ever before join a cause and to fight passionately for it, and to get all those people out there who would never join something they weren't getting paid to do to join in too. I want people to feel inspired and connected because isn't real joy in living about being connected?




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