Tom Rath and Jim Harter, authors of the book Well Being, note that giving back to the community is often beyond pure altruism because the “giver” has an emotional tie to that entity’s mission or cause. Volunteers with a vested interest usually have more to offer because of all of their knowledge and personal mission.
During the past month, several friends shared about these events:
- Friend who completed the South Florida AIDS walk to raise money for HIV Prevention
- Friend who cooked gallons of black bean soup for Ruth’s Ministry, a dedicated weekly ministry to feed financially disadvantaged persons in Fort Lauderdale
- Friend who is organizing a fundraiser for Meth and Men, a group of local community leaders trying to reduce crystal meth use within the South Florida Gay community
- Friend running in the BKB Foundation 5K in Washington DC which provides prospective first-generation college students with scholarships and visits to college campuses
- Friend who is collecting a group of volunteers to help with home renovation for a DC based group similar in philosophy to Habitat for Humanity
- Friend who volunteers to coordinate the room at a community center to ensure daily Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous meetings are available
- Friend who volunteers time on the neo-natal unit of a hospital assisting the nursing staff with care of the premature babies in their healing processes
Each of these friends has identified a personal cause and is donating their time and talent to assist the mission of the identified organization. Sometimes clients are surprised when I inquire about their current volunteer commitments. Frequently, they report a decrease in these types of volunteer activities that coincides with an increase of the challenges (depression, substance abuse, family conflict, etc.) that brought them into the counseling process. Resuming volunteer activities is often one of the treatment goals identified to reduce the presenting negative symptoms.
I encourage my Blog followers to take a moment and reflect upon your current volunteer activities with the following questions:
- Am I passionate about the mission of this organization?
- Do I experience joy and happiness during my volunteer participation?
- Whom amongst my friends might I want to encourage joining me in this type of volunteer service?
Take some time this week to support your heartfelt volunteer missions; you’ll be glad you did.