Whenever I list all the volunteer positions that I hold, the first response I get is usually, “How do you find time to do all of that?” And my answer is always the same: I make the time.
No, I don’t have super powers or time-travel devices, and I don’t run on three hours of sleep at night. The truth is, I get a jolt of good energy when I do something for a random stranger, with no expectations for any kind of return – and that kind of satisfaction is its own reward.
Volunteering is a great public relations opening – but it’s also personally fulfilling. I have volunteered in many positions over the years: working with slum kids in Brazil, supporting the community as a member of the Society of St. Vincent the Paul in Massachusetts, helping small Maine entrepreneurs tackle their marketing challenges as a SCORE counselor, sitting in on a few business/non-profit committees and boards, and most recently, leading a Girl Scout Troop (my newest gig, at which I’m having a blast!). And no matter what mission I’m following, it’s always an enriching experience. Volunteering makes me appreciate the people around me, and the world we live in. It exposes me to different realities, which makes me more aware of and sensitive to challenges I would never have encountered outside of those volunteering opportunities. Most importantly, volunteer work has helped me become a better marketer, a better business owner, a better mother, and a better friend – in essence, a better person.
I volunteer an average of 10 hours per month. It’s not that much, but it works like magic! I look forward to the days when I have to meet with a stranger to help them accomplish something. And I LOVE dealing with little Girl Scouts in my current role – they are just awesome! I come home feeling like a million bucks, with a panacea of new ideas to help me tackle my paid work in a more creative and yet objective manner.
If you’ve never tried volunteer work, it’s never too late to start. Look for something that touches you personally, and something in which you’ll want to help make a difference. I promise that you’ll fall in love with it. Be careful to start slow, though – it can be highly addicting thing to your heart and soul!