Today I sent out some messages and emails regarding some upcoming possible volunteer activities and I got to thinking about the things I’ve done so far this year. My word of focus for 2013 is service. And I feel like I’m off to a really good start. I’ve helped out with 3 different organizations on 4 occasions and have spread the word on many more fundraisers and awareness activities that are going on.
I wouldn’t really consider myself super social or outgoing. In fact, as a child I was painfully shy, being brought to tears when adults spoke to me (especially if it was something nice!) and I spent a lot of time comfortably alone. I spent a lot of time working on my social anxieties so that I would be a lot more comfortable than I once once. And I am. Though I don’t feel the need to fill up all the silences or connect with everyone.
But when you’re put into a situation where you know random people have come together to help, support, raise awareness, or further a cause… Well you kind of have something in common right away. And other people engage you in conversation and it would be rude to just ignore them. ;)
The people I have met so far on this mission of service, have been so different, coming from all walks of life, varied backgrounds. Some of the volunteers I have met have been quite young, around 20, though most of have been retirement age. The smallest age range that I could identify was probably in the 25-35 range so far (the age range in which I fall). But it’s early in the year still! And I hope that some people might be inspired by stories of volunteerism, to help out in some way themselves.
It’s been neat so far though. To chat with this varied group of people. To hear their thoughts and opinions or to have them tell stories of their lives, like you were old friends. I met a woman who suffers from MS but works in health care, through one of my volunteer jobs. I met the volunteer coordinator at an organization who attended the same post secondary program as me and held at a job at the same place I did, however we did these things a year or two apart and our paths never crossed. The telling of stories like old friends was particularly true last night, when a lovely 72 year old woman shared many of the ups and downs in her and her family’s lives. I couldn’t always follow the stories, as there seemed to be a never ending cast, but I imagine at 72, you’ve had a lot of people come in and go out of your life. It was fascinating though. The older generation has so much to share with us, if we just listen.
Despite the differences all of these people have, at the core, they all just want to do something to help and to better someone else’s life. It is a beautiful notion, I think. It touches me. It makes me feel proud and grateful and blessed.