Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Volunteering Time = Unbelievably Rewarding

It is one of the most beautiful compensations in life...that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself. - Ralph Waldo Emerson

This past weekend, I volunteered with Panera Bread (my client) and United Way for Southeastern Michigan's joint partnership program -- Impact Your Neighborhood. It was a wonderful experience for me and the quote above truly embodies what I felt like upon leaving the volunteer site.

Although it was only a few hours of time, it was so rewarding. A group of 20 of us (pictured) worked at Vista Maria, a nonprofit child welfare agency for girls and their families, based in Dearborn. The organization works with young women, approx. ages 11-18, to help them overcome past hardships and recover from histories of abuse, neglect and other traumas. These girls have been through so much that I cannot even begin to imagine...the least I could do was pull some weeds on their lawn and play games with them!
(Fun historical fact: The organization started to take shape in the 1930s when a group of Detroit nuns bought the land belonging to the Ford family for just $1!)

Volunteering always brings clarity to my life, hence why I jump at any opportunity I can make time for. I was reminded of why I do this while working with all of the amazing people that showed up...One guy explained to me that he was an exchange student from Taiwan and volunteering helped him practice his English with patient people...I laughed and then he continued to explain how so many Americans have taken the time to help him -- volunteering just a few hours of his time was the least he could do to give back to America. Hearing him saying that almost brought me to a world that feels so corrupt and jaded at times, it was refreshing to be surrounded by so many genuinely civil-minded individuals. It also was pretty cool to realize these folks were definitely not just there for the free food...volunteering was just simply something each of the people found necessary to do.

My experience just proved to me once again that sometimes it really is the small things we do -- or the few hours of time we dedicate to others that can make us feel like a million bucks.


*Bri* said...

I just wanted to let you know that you are very inspiring. I can tell that you are a wonderful person with an extremely giving spirit.


metrogal84 said...

Bri - You are too kind! I try to be a good person, but believe me, I'm not perfect by any means! Regardless, thanks for making my day. :)

*Bri* said...

Hey now, none of us are perfect.

But you trying to be as perfect as humanely possible still counts for something. :)

Have a great weekend!

Glad I could make your day :)