Voluntary Volunteering

When I was in high school

This sentence could be finished with a multitude of one liners, all of which would point out that I am no longer in my 20’s, and that I went to high school last century. My parents and grandparents told me many stories that started similarly:

How most grandfathers walked to school back in the day, for 20 miles

When I was your age, gas was 3 cents/litre and milk was delivered to my door

And I’ve already had visions of myself telling my adolescent kids:

When I was your age, cell phones had buttons and we wrote things on paper

Things change. We will all live through many advances in society and technological breakthroughs, and the things we did in our childhood and the devices we thought were high-tech will be long considered ancient, just as we will to the younger generations. But I digress.

When I was in high school…I had to involuntarily volunteer. Oxymoronic, no? But it was true. My school required seniors to complete 30 volunteer hours in order to graduate. Nothing creates a sense of community pride like forcing a teenager to give back to the community, for free. That’s how I thought at the time, anyway, and I’m positive I wasn’t alone, and I’m positive teens still think that way today.

Oxymoron example

Luckily for me, that involuntary volunteering opened my eyes to some bigger pictures in life. I learned some valuable lessons and I believe those lessons helped me along the way and have me where I am in life today.

A “Volunteer” is defined as Any person who gives freely of their time, energy and skills to contribute to the goals of a voluntary organization.

Volunteering is rarely an altruistic act where one is truly focused on giving of him/herself for the well-being of others. I know it can be that way, but I’m also a realist. Volunteering is usually self-serving. Like when I “Volunteered” in high school, it was so I could graduate. I have colleagues who “Volunteer” at sporting events so that they may gain the hours of experience needed to become proficient at sports rehab. Or the people in the orange vests who “Volunteer” to pick up garbage on the highways… I’m sure they have their reasons.

You can usually find a perfectly natural, yet self-serving reason for someone who is volunteering. But who cares? As long as the volunteer is present and willing to help the cause, that’s all that matters, right?

Volunteers are extremely important in many industries all over the world. In Ontario alone, 50% of people 15 and older volunteered last year (over 5 million people) for more than 800 million total hours! It must feel good to give your time, regardless of your reason for initially volunteering. Why else would the average volunteer commit to over 160 hours/year?

If you have’t given of your time since high school, I strongly recommend it. Find a selfish reason: it’ll look great on your resume; it will make you look more attractive to that person you’ve been wanting to ask out; you can promote your small business to the people you connect with.

As you’ve probably realized, I don’t believe your reason for volunteering matters too much. The fact you have the skills needed to volunteer is the most important thing that organizations look for.

If you don’t buy my reasoning for volunteering, take a look at this list. I’m sure you’ll find your own good reason to help out others and your community. If you are interested in volunteering, you can find a Volunteer Center near you by clicking here if you’re in Canada, or here if you’re in the United States. If you’re in the Toronto area, send me an email (matt@aim2walk.ca) as our clinic is always accepting volunteers.

Matt

Aim2Walk is always looking for volunteers interested in learning more about health care and neurological rehabilitation, as well as using innovative rehab technologies alongside an amazing therapy team.

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