Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Getting Rich by Giving More

As I was waiting for volunteer orientation at the Tualatin Library yesterday, I picked up a copy of the current Utne Reader and read an article called Get Rich Now. Rather than stock tips or ways to pay down debt and save more, this article focused on re-evaluating our lifestyles, reducing consumerism and refining our ideals. I found this passage relevant to the day of service:
Communitarianism refers to investing time and energy in relations with others, including family, friends, and members of one’s community. The term also encompasses service to the common good, such as volunteering, national service, and politics. Communitarian life is centered not around altruism but around mutuality, in the sense that deeper involvement with the other is rewarding to both the recipient and the giver. Indeed, numerous studies show that communitarian pursuits breed deep contentment. A study of 50-year-old men shows that those who have friends are far less likely to experience heart disease than those who do not. Another shows that life satisfaction in older adults is higher for those who articipate in community service.
(Emphasis mine.)
As I was reading this and thinking about my own volunteering history and how much I enjoy volunteering at the Tualatin Library, I realize there are lots of reasons why people might not volunteer or might think they cannot. Below are some suggestions to help you get started volunteering - feel free to add your own suggestions or stories in the comments section.
  1. Realize there is a job for everyone. Regardless of your age, experience or physical ability, everyone can give. Volunteers participate with a variety of jobs, including stuffing envelopes, reading to children, visiting the ill or home bound, planting trees and many, many more options.
  2. Try different options out for a day. If you aren't sure if you'd enjoy a particular opportunity, many organizations allow you to volunteer without commitment or you could participate in a special event day to try your hand.
  3. Volunteer with friends or family. Organize a group of friends or family to volunteer together - even a couple of hours really add up when you multiply them by a group.
  4. Volunteer doing something at which you are skilled. If you have a particular skill, be it construction or filing, someone can use it. It can be very gratifying to provide a specialized service.
  5. Do something that you feel passionate about. Find an organization with a mission you support - this will help you stay motivated and enthusiastic about your volunteer service.
  6. Keep your schedule and stamina in mind. It's easy to over commit when we're excited about volunteering and it's easy to get burned out, so communicate your scheduling needs to your volunteer coordinator and keep her updated if your situation or needs change.
  7. Realize that any and all time you donate has value - if you give a couple of hours per month or if you volunteer for the Peace Corps for three years, your donation of time and energy has value and is appreciated!
In any event, I hope that you will get out there and volunteer and have a great time doing it.

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