So you want to make a difference? You want to live in a world that seems a little brighter, a little happier and a little more tolerant? Then log off of Facebook, turn the T.V. off, take the earbuds out of your ears and do a little something.
It is easy to become overwhelmed with all the bad news saturating our screens. I know I do. I sometimes cannot, hard as I try, figure out where to start and how to help – never mind try to sift through all of the asks and pleas for help from so many causes and charities. It can be mind-numbing.
I realize that I can’t save everyone, much as I would like to, and so when I volunteer I choose organizations and charities that I feel connected to – small grassroots organizations where the effects of my efforts are tangible and quick to see.
Think back to a time when giving back was simple. Think back to a time when problems were not so unsolvable, when doing good was easy, fun and free-spirited. Think back to that 9 year old mind when putting up a lemonade stand was the obvious thing to do to raise some money. And you did. And you had fun. And people supported you. Volunteering can be as easy, as fun and as fulfilling, if not more, than that lemonade stand.
I really do believe that if we all slowed down for a moment, looked around and asked what we could do to make a difference, we will create the kind of world we want to live in. Imagine something you would like to see changed in and around your community. Organize a garbage clean-up, find a senior’s home and volunteer to sit and chat with someone for an hour, organize a food or clothing drive amongst your friends or neighbours and deliver what you collect to the local food bank or shelter or pack an extra lunch and hand it to someone who needs it as you walk to work in the morning. Be creative, bring people together and make it fun – you can create the change you want to see.
Becoming involved can be as simple as a one-hour commitment during a local charity event or, if you have the time and energy, can be a longer term commitment where you choose a cause that you are truly passionate about and share your skills, time and knowledge on a larger scale.
Not sure where to start? Ask yourself what topics interest you, what organization is doing work that is close to the kind of things you value most and define the expertise you have to offer. There are so many organizations out there that are looking for someone exactly like you.
Next, pick one! Call them up or go online to see what their next event is and get involved. Your first step could be as easy as buying a ticket to a charity cocktail. If you like it, then ask if they need volunteers for upcoming events.
Do Better, Be Better
I know you’ve heard about the butterfly effect. Your positive action will create a positive reaction and build momentum as it gets passed on. Helping others will build empathy, happiness and a sense of hope in both the doer and the receiver. So what are you waiting for? Do better so that we can all be better!
Studies have shown that volunteering can actually have a positive effect on your physical, emotional and mental health. People who volunteer have reported reduced feelings of stress, increased feelings of empathy and improved overall health. Doesn’t that seem like a win-win to you?
I know we’re all busy. We’ve got things to do and deadlines to meet. We have to find the time to work out, see friends, chauffeur our children from one place to the next – it’s busy. But if not you, who then? Who will organize the soccer league your daughter plays in? Who will take your ticket at the door of the benefit art show? Who will walk and groom the animals in the animal shelter? Volunteers are the backbone to a large number of organizations, charities and events that you are probably in some way or another already connected to.
We all know people doing amazing things – dedicating their time, energy and resources to causes, people and places that are important to them. They are all trying, with both small and grand gestures to build community, change lives and multiply goodness. It takes a huge number of dedicated people to keep things running but sometimes the littlest thing can make all the difference.
So what will you do to create the kind of world you would like to live in?