Monday, July 29, 2013

Volunteering: a small act done with great love


A person that that actively takes on a task, responsibility, or project on his or her own accord without needing to be assigned, ordered, or told to do so. Often a volunteer is not paid for the work that they provide. For example, a volunteer may desire to work at a company's charitable events with or without pay and may even request to do so without being asked or told to.
2. Act of taking the initiative on a task, responsibility or project. This could be as a response to a request or by making the initiative to do so. For example, a group can volunteer to research an issue as a response to a request.

I do not believe that children should be forced to volunteer.  Isn’t that by definition an oxymoron?  Forced Volunteerism?  Many high schools, including the ones in my town require volunteer hours for graduation.  In my research, I discovered that with 60 hours of volunteer work, students can earn half a credit.  I wonder though, half a credit of what?  When you are forced to go somewhere, share your time and perhaps your talents with others for no payment that is an internship or just free labor for the place of business.  Wouldn’t those children be better off working a summer job, saving money, and gaining life experiences?  I believe they would.

Volunteering has to come from a place within yourself.  It is inherently intrinsically, not externally, motivated.  Otherwise, it is not volunteering.  Our family has always found fun things to do that are often initiated by the girls themselves.

We have:
  • organized beach clean ups
  • collected over one thousand books for local childrens’ charities
  • baked for community dinners
  • held a tag sale and used the money to purchase books for a local school
  • donated baked goods to local community groups
  • participated in a food drive through Girl Scouts that collected a tremendous amount of food for a local food pantry
  • donated time as a counselor at Vacation Bible School
  • collected children’s jeans that were sent to Haiti
  • painted the youth room at church

These matter because they were not mandated by either Greg or I.  When we find opportunities to work together as a family and we ask the girls if they are interested, they usually say yes!  When they approach us with an idea that they would like to develop, we usually say yes!

We recently were asked to run the monthly church sponsored dinner at a residential homeless facility in the city next to ours.  This was a big deal for us.  The girls had only attended one other dinner there and as for myself, well, I have only gone three times.  Thankfully I partnered with a friend and together we planned the menu and split the shopping.  Our daughters spent a few hours the day of the dinner baking corn bread and three kinds of cake.  

I asked my sister and my nephews to join us.  

When children are invited into the process, given an opportunity, expected to perform tasks well, and guided, rather than managed, they are able to do far more than we give them credit for.

These four children ranging in age from 10 to 15 prepped the food (chopped vegetables, cut watermelon, poured drinks, made a tossed green salad, assisted in the making of black bean pasta).  

The arranged the serving counter.

They cleaned up after themselves.

The greeted.

They served.

They were thanked and blessed.

This is exactly what Mother Teresa meant by her quote, “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”  Love is never forced.

1 comment:

Karen said...

This is just awesome Jess! You know how much I love volunteering and I love what you said about forcing kids to volunteer. The schools do that here too. There are always kids scrambling to get their hours during the summer. Great pictures and I know you blessed these people so greatly. Love the smiles on everyone's faces.

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