From an early age, I was taught that giving back to others is one of the greatest joys in life. My mother has always espoused that your life's work should have significant impact on the lives of others. It amazes me how giving back becomes contagious. One act of giving inspires others to do the same.
I remember when I was little, my brother and I collected our old toys and clothes and donated them to a women's shelter. As I grew, more opportunities to give back became available. I started giving blood every few months and volunteered at the Salvation Army in college. After graduation, I volunteered at a soup kitchen and tutored a man in math to help him get his GED. The day he passed the test and received his GED is still one of my proudest moments.
Last year, I became involved in Big Brothers/Big Sisters. If you're not familiar with the organization, it takes at-risk children and matches them with a mentor in their area. Then the "Big" and the "Little" get together every couple of weeks to do activities, talk, and build a positive relationship to help the child reach his or her potential.
Spending time with my little sister has become one of my favorite things to do. She and I have even talked about ways that we can give back in the community and are planning on volunteering at a local animal shelter sometime this summer.
I'm thankful that my parents passed the desire to help others onto me and I'm excited to pass it onto my little sister. When I was first looking for a new volunteer opportunity, I was surprised that some places said they didn't need any help. Keep looking, though, because there are many that do.
Here are three ways to give back to your community:
Soup kitchens / food pantries
They always need donations and usually need people to help organize the food or serve it.
Even if you’re not a member, you can still find out about volunteer opportunities that way.
Friends and family
Many times, someone you know knows someone or some place that is looking for volunteers or are a part of an organization that needs help.