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I’m convinced. We, Leaders of Volunteers (#LOVols) hold in our hands more power to affect positive change than we can even imagine.
We have the opportunity to impact the world beyond filling tasks and adding to our volunteer base. The intuitive feelings within each of us are spot on: There’s so much more going on than our excel spreadsheets show.
I remember long ago struggling to find volunteers who could be with clients while loved ones attended church or synagogue or temple or mosque. I would look for volunteers of that same faith and hoped that they would be willing to give up their own attendance to help someone in need. It was the way it had always been done and it was frankly, exhausting.
Then one day, a volunteer stepped forward. Hannah offered to sit with Christian clients on a Sunday morning. (I’d love to take credit for thinking this solution up, but, no, it came from this wonderful, selfless volunteer.) Bam! The light went on.
I feared that mixing faiths (or cultures, or beliefs) would be a challenge in itself, but you know what? (Of course you know what comes next) It ended up uniting people in mutual respect and a desire to understand one another. The mere act of reaching across a cultural or spiritual divide created its own sense of wonder.
And here’s the thing. For the volunteers, it was never about, “oh, I’m so enlightened that I want to transcend these differences.” No, it was, “you know what? I’m free on a Sunday morning and you need someone, so what could be a better fit?”
The deep meaningful by-products of volunteering are seldom the initial goals. They just naturally evolve because the volunteer ripple brings out the best in everyone: Clients, families, volunteers, volunteer managers, staff, neighbors, community, everyone.
Think about that. Volunteer programs impact society in rippling positive ways beyond the delivering of meals, or escorting a tour group or passing out information. Our programs share love. Our programs open the doors for unity, connection and understanding to naturally take hold, and not just during holidays.
We often witness a profound change in people. We glimpse moments of powerful interconnection through the simplest of assignments. We stand, watching that small pebble create ripples of inspiring stories.
As you are running around this holiday season, scrambling to fill tasks, stop for a moment and think about the societal change you are helping to bring about. Because you value the innate worth of each human being and believe in their ability to transcend, you are spreading that change like a ripple in a vast sea.
Volunteerism is a rippling movement.
And leaders of volunteers are tossing the pebble into the water.