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thankfulAs we approach Thanksgiving and I still don’t know if I will have the whole day off, thereby enlisting some family members to step up and stuff the turkey, I’m finding myself mentally slowing things down and actually thinking about what it is I’m thankful for.
When it comes to my job, I’ve mentally deleted all the overwork and minutia and all that is imperfect and really thought about that which I am truly thankful for. Here’s is my list in no particular order.
I’m thankful that I took a chance twenty years ago and “tried” this job. I’m still trying it on.
I’m thankful that I’ve gotten to know thousands of people who want to give back. It’s like working in a bubble in some ways but I’ve gotten to see some remarkable people who fill me up with hope.
I’m thankful that I’ve had a chance be creative, and that since there wasn’t much of handbook on volunteering at my organization when I started, I got the chance to help develop one.
I’m thankful that volunteers are so open, willing to embrace the mission and that they put their volunteering lives into my hands. That’s a lot of trust. I hope I never lose their faith.
I’m thankful that thousands of hurting people have been helped by our volunteers. I hope that in some small way, I’ve had a part in that.
I’m thankful for co-workers who work hard to understand volunteers’ motivations and who ask for volunteer help, not demand it.
I’m thankful for Shirley, a co-worker who, in the seventeen years I’ve known her, has never said an unkind word about anyone. Her charitable spirit is my goal. I fail miserably every day when I mumble about the injustice of it all, but I want to be more like her.
I’m thankful for Jerry, my co-worker who I’ve known for nineteen years. He has my back and I have his. We don’t always agree, but we have a deep respect and liking for each other.
I’m thankful for Pete, our volunteer who was in class ten years ago. When I need some free therapy, I call him up. We spend twenty minutes doing Bob Dylan impressions, imagining a world in which squirrels are smarter than humans, and talking about what life will be like when boomers get into nursing homes. That time talking to him is like a week at a spa.
I’m thankful for Eva, who started as a volunteer five months after I started. She’s watched my family grow, I’ve watched hers. We are good, good friends. Not the boundary crossing kind, the lifelong kind.
I’m thankful for all the giggling, lively groups of students. Since my kids are grown, they tend to teach me what youth looks like now. I think the future is in pretty good hands.
I’m thankful for this evolving media. Before the widespread use of the internet, there was very little information on volunteer management. We all operated in silos so we had to “wing it” most of the time. Now there’s help and support out there if we look.
I’m thankful that the vast majority of volunteer managers take their profession seriously and that every night they can go home, look themselves in the mirror and be proud of what they’ve done. Sleep well each night because you’ve made more of a difference than you know.
I’m thankful for Dave, the captain. Even though he can’t volunteer anymore, he always calls me at just the right time to say hi and find out how I am doing. Coincidentally, he called me yesterday.
I’m thankful for all that I have learned. I never would have had this education in another profession.
I’m thankful for the nuances of life. If I have taken anything away from this job, it’s that life and people are many faceted, complex and fluid. Surprises always have a lesson tucked in there like fortune cookies.
I’m thankful for my failures and successes. Both keep me moving.
I’m thankful that my family understands how being involved in a mission is more than a nine to five job.
Lastly, I’m thankful for the chance to share.
Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.