Have you ever helped others without expecting something in return? I’ve been doing some sort of volunteer work for the past thirty years. I’ve had some very different experiences doing this work, some better than others. For the past 4 ½ years I’ve been visiting an elderly gentleman in his home. Every Sunday afternoon I go and visit my friend. While he’s only ten years older than me, he has many health issues that have greatly affected his life. John had big plans for his retirement years. One of which was sailing his boat on Lake Michigan. He had to sell his boat, and can hardly walk now. His wife was a school teacher and John was a psychotherapist working with veterans with PTSD or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. He himself is a Vietnam veteran and suffers from PTSD as well.
We have many common interests, and share the same political views. In the past he worked at the local main post office in human resources, but retired after a postal shooting. Both of my parents are deceased, and I have grown quite fond of John and his wife. When I come to visit his wife runs errands. We have talked about so many things over the years. He has even invited me and my family to come and visit at their summer home in New Mexico.
Just recently I started volunteering for a local organization that teaches financial literacy to high school students. It’s a six class program that runs over a three month period. I was truly amazed how little high school juniors know about finances. I’m an accountant and like to share my knowledge. The kids really seemed to enjoy the classes, and so did I. I think I may have missed my calling, as I love teaching.
I was cleaning my home office recently and came across my id for when I was a volunteer at the Veterans Administration in 1993. This was not one of my better volunteering experiences. My goal was to cheer up our veterans. It devolved into me feeding patients and doing nursing assistant type of work. That quickly ended. I also volunteered for the Girl Scouts working at an activity center. This was ironic as I don’t have a daughter. The first few functions went well, but when the visiting troop leaders sat around and did nothing while I was busting my butt, that was time for me to go.
I volunteered for a Big Brothers/Big sister’s type of an organization when I lived in Chicago. I was paired with a 14 year old girl who was getting into a lot of trouble at home and school. That was a very rewarding experience. Unfortunately the girl was sent to juvenile hall, and I never saw her again.
When I moved to Wisconsin I joined the local Jaycees. I organized one event at our local zoo. The weather that day was crappy, so we didn’t have a big turnout. On the plus side I was able to donate the food to a local homeless shelter. I found out when you have an event like that, you can donate the leftover food to a shelter and they will pick it up. I called several local TV stations to try and get the message out, but no one was interested, which was quite sad. Think of how many catered events you attend where they have leftover food. What a shame.
My newest volunteer opportunity is being involved in a yearlong medical study for osteoporosis. My mother suffered with the disease and shrunk four inches in a few years. If I can help just one person from getting this awful disease, then I will have accomplished my goal.