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MANN: The complexities of volunteering with children

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April 04, 2019 - 12:00 PM

 


OPINION


Years ago, I interviewed a man in my community about his volunteer work.

Whenever he had the chance, he would give up his time to help coach soccer, or dress up like a clown to make people laugh.
 
When I asked him why he did it, and why he believes most people volunteer, he concluded, that most people give up their time for altruistic reasons — out of selflessness and concern for others.
 
I know those people do exist. They live to make a difference, regardless of whether they are acknowledged for their deeds or not.

They live for the endorphins that swarm their bodies, letting them know they have succeeded in making change — no matter how small.
 
But I also think there are people who can learn to be great volunteers — who may not necessarily be the first ones in line to run for a cause, pack a hamper, or assist the elderly in need of a helping hand.

They learn by example, and the great feelings of a job well done come slowly flowing in — encouraging them to continue to volunteer their time.

And time, as we all know, is so very precious.
 
I am aware of my lack of volunteer experience on paper. It wasn’t always that way.
 
Back in my school days, I have great memories of bake sales, car washes and reading to younger children.

And then, what can I say, life gets away with you and suddenly you have to make choices on what you can do with your time.
 
I have noticed this is particularly true now that I have children.
  
But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t weigh on me — the feeling that I am not doing enough in my community — that I could be doing more — that we are all here for a bigger purpose, and part of that purpose is helping others without expecting anything in return.

It can be a hard concept to understand, and even harder to live by for many individuals.

And I believe it is helpful if you start young — if you start teaching your children about volunteering right from the start — with your participation.

You can’t just talk about it.

The good thing is, many organizations are aware volunteering is not just a solo act, it can engage families, partners, businesses and sometimes just the kids.

We can remind our little ones about the grand scheme of things, and that volunteering can be a rewarding experience, even if there isn’t any monetary compensation, likes on social media, or future job offers.
 
Like everything, lessons about caring start at home. 
 
National Volunteer Week 2019 in Canada is April 7 - 13, which is why I should stop blabbering on about my own insights on volunteering, and encourage everyone to recognize those who knowingly commit their time and efforts to the bigger picture.

My resolution for this month, is to find a way to volunteer for something, to show my children the true joy of giving, and I want to do it with them — my two favourite people in the whole wide world. 

— Becky is a 30-something, red haired, mother of two, trying to navigate this life as best she can. She enjoys talking to people and discovering their stories. Still trying to balance her personal and professional life, she juggles work and play. In her spare time Becky can be found visiting with friends, spending time with her family and saving time by reading while walking.


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