“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”
So many images were conjured up for me this week I saw another piece of research about the benefits of volunteering and it made me reflect on my own experience of volunteering at different stages in my life. I have volunteered as a carer in hospital before I started my training, I have fundraised, I have volunteered as a safe-guarder for my church at that time, I have chaired playgroups and taken my turn at looking after the kids, I have been on school boards, I have supported family weekends for people with diabetes, I have given talks about health related things mainly and so on. But mostly now I’m asked to be a trustee for charities.
I suspect it’s a reflection of my cake making abilities. I will never be a food blogger. Now I’m sure it wasn’t my particular amateurish chocolate crispy cakes that were banned from the local fundraising group for Childline coffee mornings but I have long harboured suspicions it might have been. There was also the issue that as a local diabetes nurse in the practice at one stage, I was not good for profits when I was put in charge of selling the cakes at the coffee mornings. Move me to the books I cried, prospective buyers who know me ,see me there and put down the cakes with an apologetic smile. In spite of all of that I loved those days when I felt part of the community, focused on helping others in however small away and however tired we were by the end of the day we left with a smile and friendships deepened.
It was also a bit of a family joke that if I went along to an AGM of whatever group I was part of there was a risk I would end up as Chair. I can’t ever remember thinking this was my goal, mostly what I knew was I wouldn’t want to be treasurer! I don’t doubt that those days of chairing playgroups etc helped me deal with any challenging situations as a leader. Fairness, clarity, focus on your mission and what’s important, listen and respond to all viewpoints and don’t take it personally (still hard I confess) were some of the things I learned. And seeing the outcome of your volunteering is so satisfying: the kids playing in the playgroup, secured for another year through your work; the families at the end of a weekend confidence boosted and friendships made to make life with diabetes a little easier in the future; a charity secure and meeting the people whose lives it has changed.
Yes volunteering has given me some of the greatest satisfaction over the years-and OK maybe the odd headache too but if you want to change your life and others too…go on give it a go. Think about what your good at and what makes your heart sing and find out what is needed and match the two. You won’t regret it I suspect and you will change someone’s life for the better too.
Reasons to be grateful:
I had a lovely lovely time with my daughter, the spa day was wonderful . She is home now with her family (see photo)to welcome her back. Today I’m off to the Festival of Politics at the Scottish Parliament. I guess it’s not everyone’s idea of fun but saddo that I am it is mine…honest! The Fringe finishes soon which perhaps is just as well my stamina and wallet are stretched by now. But we have seen some great things, including a young comedian from New York called Michael Che-one to watch I think. Brilliant!