Out and About

Why be a volunteer?

I have mentioned in previous columns I am a volunteer. Our community, and world for that matter, needs volunteers to help achieve objectives that make it a better place to live. I know many of you reading this do your fair share of volunteering, but our community needs more. Why does one feel a need to volunteer? If you ask community volunteers you will hear many answers to the question… “Why do you volunteer?”

The most inspiring answer I heard was “to make a difference in the world.” Others said, “I believe in the mission of the organization,” “to make new friends,” “to share valuable skills,” “to feel a sense of accomplishment,” “to stay busy,” and “it is a civic responsibility.” I like to think it makes a person feel better and instills value. One of those answers may be your answer… or not.

A local business provided an interesting answer to the question. The business pools their volunteer efforts as a group. Outside the office teamwork improves teamwork in the office. That, in turn, will create a better work environment and employee work efficiency. The volunteer effort shines a very rewarding light on the company for being a good neighbor.

My friend and her daughter volunteer at a women and children’s shelter once a month helping prepare an evening meal. They sit down after kitchen clean up to get to know the women and children. The initial reason for volunteering was to set a good example for the daughter. But, you know what else it did? The volunteer time offered friendship to a small family that needed it then more than ever.

The word “community” popped up most in the conversations. Volunteers want to better the community for everyone. That could be picking up trash on the road, manning an information booth at the hospital, tutoring a struggling second grader in reading, or just sitting on the porch of the home of a house-bound elderly person listening to tales of yesterday. There are so many ways to give back to our community.

Do you want to become a volunteer? What are your interests, skills, or passions? Google “non-profit organizations in Blount County” or search United Way. I volunteer for The Friends of the Locust Fork River because the river offers much value and needs to stay healthy. If you do not have many free hours to volunteer right now, pick a cause and donate dollars. Your help in any way will be greatly appreciated.

There is a well-known quotation attributed to Mahatma Gandhi, an anti colonial nationalist and civil rights advocate who campaigned for India’s independence from the British: “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” Couple that adage with “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” and we would have a failsafe remedy for many problems in our world. Imagine that!