by Victor De'Prey
The world does.
In fact, many of the
largest organizations, both for-profit and non-profit, depend on
their volunteers to get things done and keep their institutions
Internships, a word
which has been maligned recently thanks to the Washington merry-go-round,
is an excellent way for a novice to learn about an organizations
workings, particularly if it's in a field they plan to enter as
the Red Cross, Salvation Army, food banks, homeless shelters, film
restoration centers, hospitals and many other groups could not exist
or would have to operate within very limited service capabilities.
It is the volunteer, contributing time and sometimes personal resources,
that keeps all such establishments open for business.
Who is a volunteer?
You are. Sometimes we don't realize we're volunteering, such as
when we open a door for someone with an armful of packages - you've
just volunteered to be a good samaritan without thought of compensation.
Or, you may deliberately seek out a service organization and join
them to volunteer on a regular basis.
What do volunteers do?
Everything from A to Z. From the president of the Lions Clubs International,
the worlds largest service organization, to the candy striper who
wheels you down a hospital corridor, you've been served by a volunteer.
We do many, many things in service to humanity. Perhaps one of the
best known volunteers was Nobel Prize winner Sister Theresa. She
chose her way of life in order to serve.
I'm not a bible pounder
nor do I belong to an organized religious group but there are many
waysto keep the faith. The good book charges us ". . through love
serve, one another." (Gal. 5:13). We've been taught since childhood
that it's better to give than to receive; maybe it's because the
rewards far outweigh the "costs".
WHAT DO VOLUNTEERS GET FOR THEIR SERVICES?
A few years back I joined
a local chapter of a Lions Club in Oregon because I thought it would
be a good place to make business contacts. I was wrong. It's a good
place to meet people who are willing to give of themselves on a
regular basis in order to improve their community and enhance the
quality of life for friends, neighbors and strangers.
One of my first responsibilities
was to handle the case of a child whose mother called to inform
us that the child had difficulty reading the blackboard and didn't
care to read school assignments at home. The school nurse thought
the child may need glasses. Because she was a single mother barely
able to provide for her family she was told she could call our club
and we might be able to help. After a preliminary review by the
club the child was sent to a cooperating eye doctor who diagnosed
her and prescribed glasses; our club paid for everything. A few
months later I chanced to meet the mom at the supermarket and inquired
about the child. I was informed the child's grades went from C's
to A's in one semester because she could see everything now and
had an incentive to read. I can't describe how I felt at that exact
moment except that a warm, fuzzy feeling came all over me. I felt
ten feet tall and proud to be a Lion volunteer.
To answer the question,
what do volunteers get: We get warm fuzzies all over the place.
Only another volunteer can know what that feels like and that's
why we do it. Financial gain is not part of a volunteers lexicon.