Be Selfish….VOLUNTEER!

by | Oct 24, 2014 | Uncategorized

I like to be surprised.  I think we all do, at least in positive ways.  My surprise?  I was able to relearn how fun and important volunteering is.

I went to get a snack at the concession stand at my local soccer fields where I was taking in a hot, early fall soccer match. The sounds of laughing kids, yelling coaches, whistles, birds, and airplanes approaching the airport all create an interesting background symphony that I have been enjoying for years.  I never minded the early morning dew, rain, chill, or screaming kids. I figured that this is supposed to be the good part of life, right?  Usually, as a parent, you have to volunteer for at least one shift, or coach, or do something in a recreational league.  Not everybody gets that or cares about it, which always leaves a gaping hole in the need vs. resources department in soccer, baseball, or whatever your town’s recreational leagues are.

When I got to the concession stand, I discovered a long line. Peering in the window, I saw an overworked cook and not much other help.  I offered to help, figuring that I had about 30-40 minutes before I had to leave and accomplish all I set out to do with the day.  People kept coming to the concession stand and I fell into a groove.  It felt great!  I was having fun with the customers, trying to do fast math in my head as I took money and doled out change, making more fruit cups, stocking more beverages, and serving water as it was hot, humid, and getting hotter.  The cook’s name was Paul and he was amazing.  No complaining, just taking care of business.  I figured that if Paul could volunteer, stand next to the grill on a day like that, and never complain, then I had to have fun.  All of the parents, grandparents, coaches, and referees kept coming and coming and coming. As it turned out, I ended up leaving a few hours later, as the time easily flew by.

I went home and realized that all of my plans for the day weren’t really going to work out since I gave most of my day to the snack shack.  At night, I always find a moment or two to think about my day and the next day, so I wake up with focus.  I realized that I really hadn’t accomplished what I set out to do with my day off.  I also realized that my volunteering “gig” ended up being the best part of my day.  I started to feel selfish about it, like I should have been working more at home and not having so much fun at the field. But, if that’s selfish, I need to sign up for more!

I have volunteered in many forms and in many places over the years: food shelters, soccer coach, baseball coach, working on the sports fields, cub scouts, robot coach… whatever I thought could make a difference in what little time I have.  The problem is that I haven’t done enough of this in the past couple of years.  Work and life have gotten in the way, and although I try to do as much as possible for my family and step in here and there, I haven’t done enough.  My schedule is hard! After doing a little bit of online research, I discovered an article on webmd.com that said that volunteering makes people happier, which can lead to overall better health.

Every community can benefit from selflessness.  In the U.S., we have focused so much on “me” instead of “we” in the past few decades. However, this trend is changing.  In our industry, team builders centered on benefitting the needy and conventions having early bird volunteering sessions or donations to local charities are becoming common. So, my message to you is to try and volunteer whenever and wherever you can.  It’s a healthy activity that makes a very positive difference in people’s lives, including your own.  Go ahead…Volunteer….BE SELFISH!

S