Preempting the New Year’s Resolution
#4 Having a Helping
By Kayla Lemar
Volunteerism is officially defined as working
without payment. But just as patience is not just waiting, but
waiting with a good attitude, so volunteerism is not just having
helping hands, but having a helping heart that extends them.
For a long time, volunteering was my duty. In
fact, one of the reasons I didn’t keep a job during High School because
I preferred to work without payment. It was self-edifying in a
this-is-not-about-me-so-I-am-a-good-person sort of way. The duty
of serving others was born from my childhood as the eldest of four, in
a family where both parents made careers out of care-taking (spiritual,
physical, or otherwise). Care-taking was a way of life for me, so
much that I cared very little about myself.
As I search for life-renovation this 2011, I am
uncovering the roots in my own life of the difficulties adults have
when they are older. My difficulty with volunteering is not that
I don’t volunteer, but that I make everyone else’s life my
responsibility. I make loving everyone else my responsibility,
but think so little of learning to love myself.
This, I imagine, is not the root in the lives of
everyone reading this. And so if you do not struggle with giving
too much, but rather not wanting to give at all, then below are some of
my own reasons for volunteering.
Volunteering develops virtue, honor, and
compassion. You feel more for the needs of others, open yourself
to their joys and their pains. In serving you develop a love and
mercy for life, others and your own.
Volunteering can be an expression of appreciation
for a person or for a community that has supported you.
Volunteering builds connectedness.
Connectedness is an understanding of how all parts of a whole cooperate
and support one another. Like the nitrogen or oxygen or water
cycles in sixth grade Life Science, how each part flows into another,
so it is with humanity, our Darke County community, our schools, and
even our homes. Connectedness is my key strength, according to
psychological and personality research I’ve done on myself, and is thus
the furthermost reason I volunteer.
Volunteering might help you promote an idea or
organization that is important to you. My youngest sister,
Jessica, has been a vegetarian since she was eight. Unlike
vegetarians concerned about high cholesterol, my sister doesn’t eat
meat because she loves animals so much that it hurts her to see them on
a plate. Volunteering at the Animal Shelter or at Shawnee Prairie
or even the Cincinnatti Zoo would be a way for her to express her love
of animals and promote awareness about human practices that endanger
her furry friends.
On a practical note, my volunteer work at the Daily
Advocate and now the Early Bird as a teen writer helped me develop a
skill set. I use some of that skill set at the YMCA to write
press releases for the children’s programs I develop, and I use other
parts of that skill set for my own enjoyment at home writing
stories. Volunteering is the perfect opportunity for a young
person to explore interest areas and gain experience for a career or as
There’s only one reason people give for volunteering
that I disagree with. Volunteering isn’t about building a college
resume. Yes, volunteering promotes you in the eyes of a school
board or a scholarship board, and yes, it’s a good idea to have some
volunteer work on your resume. But volunteering, for me, is about
blessing the heart. The fear of being rejected by colleges and
scholarship boards ruled my decision-making about community
volunteerism. My fear of loss of love ruled my decision for
giving in my church and in my home.
Wisdom from the followers of Jesus: a joyful giver
is delightful. A resentful or fearful one… not so much.
Make volunteering about blessing your heart and the hearts of
others. As in all things, volunteer in balance. Neither
take the world on your shoulders, nor live without the blessing of
connecting to the goodness around you. Give joyfully out of the
abundance of you heart.
Here is a list of volunteer opportunities for youth
like you, provided by Sherry Baker, HandsOn West Central Ohio Volunteer
• Darke County Parks District, volunteer
as a trail monitor
• Oakley House, volunteer teaching and
playing the Wii with residents
• Oakley House , volunteer as a nail technician
(painting residents nails)
• Big Brother Big Sisters, volunteer as a Big to a
• Council on Rural Services, volunteer in one of our
classrooms reading to children
• SafeHaven, volunteer sharing computer knowledge to
“Everyone should extend their hand to help
another; we all have talents to be shared to make the world a better
place. The possibilities are endless,” Baker says. Some
other unique ideas of Baker’s include picking up trash around town and
organizing your own food drive for drop-off at a local food
Volunteers of all ages can participate in HandsOn
West Central Ohio’s large service days— Make a Difference Day in
October and Martin Luther King Jr. Day in January.
My favorite place to volunteer is with Darke
County’s Youth for Christ programs. Youth for Christ hosts Serve
Darke County annually, on October 1st this year. Other
opportunities include task volunteering and (if you are an adult or
young adult wanting to help with youth) ministry/leadership
volunteering. Check out cws.yfc.net/Brix?pageID=14621 for a list of
specifics, and mail firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Visit www.handsonwestcentralohio.org for a search engine
of other volunteer opportunities in your unique interest areas.
Don’t forget to use the creativity in your own heart. Think
freely when expressing your love for others.