Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Appreciation for Volunteers

It is April and a time to appreciate many things.  Natural things, like warmer weather and longer days are easy things to feel grateful for because they are so obvious. They affect our mood, positive feelings and happiness. People can also do that for one another, and people who are the best at it, are called volunteers! 

I just spent some time looking up quotes on volunteerism. The quotes ranged from Aristotle to Erma Bombeck, from Ghandi to Emerson - but they all basically said the same thing. The resounding common themes were, you cannot be happy and fulfilled in your own life without doing things for others. You cannot save your time and start to do good later, when later may never come. One person may not be able to everything, but everyone can do something. And it does make a difference!

Volunteers are just plainly un-selfish. They give of themselves and their valuable time, but luckily they also get much back. They know this, and feel grateful for having filled part of their day with work and meaningful things to do. Since they are such good people, I am happy to report that they reap some perks and benefits. 

It is a proven fact that by volunteering you will have a lower mortality rate, increased body function, especially among seniors, and lower rates of depression largely due to the fact that social networks will broaden.  I don’t think volunteers necessarily say to themselves, “I am going to volunteer for the proven health benefits!” But I am sure glad to know these good folks will likely live longer because of their good deeds.

Watching volunteers for many years working one on one with clients in the Food Shelf, I have been fortunate to observe, on a daily basis, the exchange of smiles, tears, hugs and kind words. Volunteers show compassion without judgment. They care about all people, not just some. They are often the glue that holds a community together.   

I could go on and on about how wonderful the volunteers are at Second Harvest. They have enriched my life beyond words. They work on so many things; it is likely they don’t even know the scope and impact of their work. Their volunteer labor is invaluable to helping our charitable organization get food into the hands of people who need it. Not trying to be dramatic here, but, without them we could not exist! Thank you to all of our dedicated, hard -working volunteers.

I’ll leave you with a few quotes:
“Volunteers do not necessarily have the time; they just have the heart.”
-Elizabeth Andrew

“The unselfish effort to bring cheer to others will be the beginning of a happier life for ourselves.”
 -Helen Keller

I don't know what your destiny will be, but one thing I do know; the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve.
- Albert Schweitzer

“Volunteers are the only human beings on the face of the earth who reflect this nation's compassion, unselfish caring, patience, and just plain love for one another.”
-Erma Bombeck

Ellen, Second Harvest Project Manger

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