For about a year, I wrote a column for the Perry Hall Patch about events and organizations where you, the reader, could volunteer your time. I implored you give of yourself, that volunteering was fulfilling and not only that, but you would make friends and if single might even find "the one."
My dirty little secret is that the whole time I was writing that column, I didn't volunteer my time anywhere. I convinced myself that writing about it was enough. (OK, I know you were probably expecting a juicier confession, but I've hooked you now so please keep reading.)
Sure, I had volunteered in my early teens, but as a requirement for Confirmation at St. Joseph's Church. In my early twenties, I made books on tape for The Maryland School for the Blind, but that was just me in a room with a tape recorder. As a graphic designer by trade, I was often asked to design things for no payment (almost like volunteering). I used to joke that I put the "free" in freelance. But for the most part, I didn't find volunteering fulfilling nor did I make any friends and doing work for free just made me angry.
When my Patch column ended, I decided that I would try volunteering again. So I went to a membership meeting for the Northern Baltimore County Junior Chamber (NBC Jaycees)—one of the last organizations that I wrote about in my column. I was impressed with all of the good and diverse things that they were involved in and joined almost immediately. Since then, I have become Vice President of the chapter and am responsible for membership and community events.
After that, I volunteered at Senior Interview Day at Perry Hall High School. It was such a great experience helping high school seniors prepare for job interviews and sharing my knowledge with them.
I've also become a member of the Perry Hall High School 50th Anniversary committee. It is a privilege to be able to be able to honor the high school that I attended and had so many memorable experiences in.
With the NBC Jaycees, I have helped with a Cornhole Tournament to raise money for Special Olympics, participated in a Paint-a-Pumpkin booth for kids and organized the monthly visit to do crafts with the children at St. Vincent's Villa.
I can tell you now from experience, Patch readers, that volunteering is fulfilling and I have made more friends than I could have imagined.
One of my recent Facebook status updates was about another volunteer event I was helping with. One of my friends commented, "You are going to heaven." Truly, that is not why I am volunteering (although, God, if you are reading this, I really would like to go to heaven). Doing good makes you feel good.
You don't have to go all in like I have—just start small. Since you have to eat anyway, why not go to Chick-Fil-A or Pizza Hut on a fundraising night? Or if you play bingo or like to go to Bull Roasts, why not go to ones that raise money for charity? It's OK to have fun while doing good things.
In future blogs, I will write about volunteer events that I am involved in and how you could get involved too. If you would like to share your experiences too, feel free to email me or post in comments.