“Why I Volunteer.”

Today I was in a training session all day for work. At the end of the day, the facilitator asked us to gather around where he had four pieces of paper on the floor. One said “Professional Development,” another said “Make a Contribution,” yet another said “Personal Growth.” The last one I don’t remember exactly – thinking it had something to do with money. Anyway – the facilitator asked us to stand by the place that best described why we do the job we do – all of us having something to do with the Department of Health.

I easily decided and stepped over to stand by “Professional Development.” Everyone else gathered snugly around “Make a Contribution.”

I looked at everyone else and said quite frankly “Well, it appears I’m the odd duck out.”

Hey, at least I’m honest.

The facilitator asked us each to explain why we chose what we chose. I was honest about my career goals and how my particular position fits into that track.

This little exercise got me thinking. Sure, I’m sure some people do the jobs they do for a desire to help and contribute to their community – but come on. It’s not like we don’t get anything out of it – a paycheck for one thing… support for our family, our own development and growth, perhaps a sense of pride.

For me, making a contribution is voluntary. My contribution to the community is volunteering in a role that helps our youth through a cadet program – I’ve mentioned this before.

Sure, it’s a practical program teaching the kids first aid skills and giving them a place to go on a Monday night. It teaches them community responsibility as we facilitate their own community volunteerism.

But then there’s the extra time; the extra needs. There’s the young bloke telling me he’s depressed. He’s ranting and upset and just plain depressed. His eyes are near tearful, bloodshot; hard to tell if it’s from the depression or if he’s exhausted …or likely a mixture of both.

We talk, I let him unload. Then he starts telling me about his girlfriend and how he thinks he might be falling for her. The first girl he’s felt that way about for a long time, he’s been afraid of getting hurt again. But he thinks about her all the time and she helps him feel better when she’s around.

“You smile when you talk about her,” I say.

He smiles a little wider and starts blushing just slightly.

“Yeah, well… I feel like I can be myself around her.”

He leaves feeling a bit better, with a still small smile on his face. I may be in my job for personal gain, but this is my contribution. This is why I volunteer.

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