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The buzz: Volunteers are busy as some bees
By Jobyna Nickum
April is National Volunteer Month! In the past, the Enumclaw Senior Activity Center has sometimes veered away from the national “theme” if we found it a bit dry and created our own, such as these winners: Our volunteers are All Heart, The Cat’s Meow, Busy Bees, and Priceless Treasure (the staff just wanted to dress up as pirates that year, mates). Well, this year’s national theme is “Volunteers Build a Better World.” No argument there – we are going with it!
Where would this community, this state, this country, this planet be without those folks who give of themselves and expect nothing in return? Well, volunteers do have some expectations – they give their time, energy, effort, talent to a cause because they want to see something they feel strongly about continue to grow, get bigger, do good things, make a difference in someone’s life. You know, build a better world.
I have worked with and managed hundreds of volunteers during the past 30 years and this is what I know for sure about volunteers regardless of their age, background or what organization they are volunteering for: they are not doing it for recognition. Volunteers don’t want to have their horn blown about their good deeds. They just want to do what it is they want to do – to make a difference in their small little corner of the world. Volunteers are volunteers because they are passionate about what they donate their time to. Whether it is the senior center, a before- and after-school daycare, a homeless shelter, the peace movement, cleaning up a park that is filled with trash – people will willingly do the most unglamorous (a.k.a. “icky, smelly, gross”) jobs – to make a difference in a cause they believe in. People will scrub floors, stuff envelopes by the thousands, wash dishes, fill dumpsters will muck – all to do their part. Volunteerism. Commitment. You really can’t pay any amount of money for that attitude people; that’s why volunteers are truly priceless.
While most volunteers do not know it, volunteering does pay out great benefits. Not a paycheck or health care, but according to the Web article “The Health Benefits of Volunteering: A Review of Recent Research” on www.nationalservice.gov, “Volunteering leads to greater life satisfaction and lower rates of depression. Individuals who volunteer live longer and…researchers also found that patients who have chronic or serious illnesses who volunteer receive benefits beyond what can be achieved through medical care alone.”
Have you thought about volunteering, but don’t know were to start? What is your interest, your passion? The environment? Homelessness? Domestic Violence? Kids? Elders? Those who are dying? Those who are lonely? Those who can’t read? Those who can’t drive? Trust me when I say, if you want to help build a better world, there is a group just waiting for you to join forces with them to help.
What would our Plateau area be without volunteers? I don’t even want to imagine. But let us imagine this – what if the number of active volunteers doubled in the next year? Wow! Talk about a better world. So, in closing, to all of you – of all ages – wherever you volunteer here on the Plateau, you really are the cat’s meow, you are all heart, you are priceless treasure and you are busy bees. Thank you for helping to build a better world.