volunteer-bannerI was asked once, something I’m sure everyone has been asked, (or at least thought about) what if I hit the jackpot? To be honest, I’d probably stick with my work, casual to part-time at least, because I really do enjoy working in non-profit. But I’d also like to become a bit of a philanthropist. I mean there are certain things I’d like to do at home, living within means of course, taking care of my family, etc…., but if I had the money I’d like to simply become dedicated to getting involved and lending a helping hand. No fancy car, or boat, or any other grown-up toy that I’d probably use once (or in a blue moon) and then let sit around collecting dust.

I like volunteering; being of service and seeing something or someone succeed. And I appreciate seeing others help out too. There are plenty of people out there who could use a helping hand, someone to hang out with, talk to or share with. Volunteering isn’t just about helping others out but can be self-fulfilling as well. I’m not saying neglect your job, because we all need a steady pay cheque, and definitely do not forget about your loved ones; but getting out there and doing something for and with others, whether it be:

  • Office work,
  • Tabling at an event,
  • Offering peer support,
  • Being a mentor,
  • Fundraising,
  • or so much more…..

It can all be so rewarding.

After graduating college I was feeling a bit over-whelmed with my career choice; not only was it difficult to find openings and get interviews, but making my way through any given interviews proved tough. Things were looking bleak, I was feeling horrible, depression was bound to kick in. Then it was recommended to me that I volunteer my time at this local theatre, I was a creative person and this seemed to be right up my alley. I began meeting people, I enjoyed working with a team, it was fun seeing how the people who attended these shows reaped in the rewards of the work we all did, and, I ended up getting a job which lasted eight years. Eight years in a place where I worked hard and learned and made friends and grew. My passion for writing, which I had lost in my high school and college years, was re-kindled… eventually leading to published articles, blogs, and then a book. And it all started with volunteering.

My mom had an accident quite some time ago and she attends a program that is partially run by volunteers. She has come so far because of some of the joy and caring they have brought to her life. She even works and assists them now with certain things whenever she can. Volunteering has done her good and she enjoys helping out. Volunteering has done me good and I enjoy helping out. It puts smiles on faces, it broadens horizons, it builds character, it teaches, it creates relationships, contributes to positive change and makes connections.

Volunteering can look good on a resume, but it also feels good in the heart, puts a twinkle in someone’s eye and it helps the flow of life.

So, aside from my positive thoughts with regards to landing that future big jackpot, I wish things were made a little easier in the present so that we could all reap the benefits that can mean so much to you and me and so many others.

You can start with the ACYR website, challenging yourself to GET INVOLVED and become part of the Volunteer jackpot!

By Mark Koning

Mark is the Communications & Administration Coordinator with the AIDS Committee of York Region. Mark is also an Author and Blogger of Challenging Barriers and The BIST Blog. (Brain Injury Society of Toronto)