Volunteer or Not

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Volunteering is important for many reasons but the reality is that lots of people ask themselves this question: “What is in it for me to volunteer my time and energy?” In my personal experience volunteering allowed me to be part of a group of respected, well meaning people who help the community. In my own volunteer work, I found myself surrounded with like-minded individuals who share the common idea of being part of a happier well functioning community. Personal relationships don’t just work, we have to work at having good relationships. Giving is part of making relationships and communities work. I remember my first day as a volunteer, I was intimidated at the amount of skills and abilities among the other volunteers. In just one day I met so many dedicated individuals who did such amazing work. And soon enough I realized that I too was able to utilize my skills to contribute. I had a great time volunteering. There were lots of laughs and great stories from staff and other volunteers.

If you look at life, every part of it asks us to make an investment in time and often money. Where we invest determines how our life evolves. Now that I work in an organization that relies on so many volunteers to provide the services we do, I can see the value and impact that the community at large receives. Without volunteers at Compass, there would be no PrideFest of Lake Worth and the Palm Beaches in March, no Stonewall Black & White Party in June, no Board of Directors to govern the agency, no front desk to greet visitors, no attendant at the David Bohnett cyber center to sign you in the computer, no groups would be able to meet in our center, and most importantly no heart.

I always refer to volunteers as the heart of Compass. Just like the one on my chest, volunteers pump life into every single activity and program Compass provides to the community. But if you want to talk bottom line and hard numbers, the volunteer hours donated to Compass throughout all of last year, if converted to comparable salary, it’s almost $150,000.

So, what you get from volunteering depends on what you give. Being a volunteer has enriched my life with new friends, new skills, and experiences. It’s a great way to stay connected with members of the community, and it gives you a sense of purpose. I cannot imagine my life without doing some type of volunteer work and giving back to the community. And although it is a little early to be talking about New Year’s resolutions, add volunteering to your 2012 list. I am pretty sure you’ll be rewarded in unimaginable ways.