Volunteering: “What’s In it For You?”
The benefits of giving back to the community.
“The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.” – Author Unknown
Most of us volunteer because we want to give back. We want to be charitable, and we see ourselves as good citizens. But taking on a volunteer role that is right for you can provide significant personal benefits.
For me, the primary benefit is meeting many fine and interesting people. With Editors Canada, it was thoughtful and erudite people from across the country. At CKUA Radio, it was the announcers and the fans and the musicians. At the Highlands Historical Society, it was neighbours and people who shared my interest in heritage, and in some cases had lived in the Highlands all their lives.
The payback can include enhanced self-esteem, and the chance to use and develop skills you may not even know you have. Perhaps, most importantly, you can become engaged in an enriching experience. That experience could be supporting the ballet, or it could be visiting a maximum security prison, as McCauley resident Gary Garrison has done.
Garrison, always ready with a witticism, says, “It gets me out of the house.” But, he adds, he appreciates the chance to become connected with people he would not meet otherwise. He taught writing to prisoners at the Edmonton Institution, and this experience took him into a world that he knew nothing about.
Garrison is also an Artist on the Wards at the University of Alberta Hospital. His assignment is to visit patients and ask them if they would like him to write a poem for them. If they say yes, he goes away and comes back with a finished product in about half an hour. He says this activity helps him to overcome his tendency to be too much of a perfectionist.
Rosalie Gelderman has pursued a wide variety of volunteer roles in the McCauley community. She has been active with the community league board, community revitalization projects, art classes, music festivals, and Abundant Communities Edmonton. Gelderman especially values the connection with neighbours that her activities provide.
It is important to her to “build a sense of community so I can greet people on the street, and in the stores and restaurants. I like the diversity of residents in McCauley. Often, every interaction is unique!” Gelderman also feels it’s to her benefit to “work together to keep the neighbourhood strong.”
Anita Jenkins is a retired writer and editor who lives in Boyle Street.