By Mallory Harmon
“From my early school days, I was brought up with the belief that we have a duty to use our talents, to volunteer and to make a contribution.”
-Billionaire businessman and philanthropist Sir Michael Hintze, UK.
I am sure you have been told stories about the experience of volunteering in your community. You may have heard that volunteering will change the way you see the world, or even make you aware of all the wonderful things you have in your own life. I, however, would prefer to use the few words by Hintze to introduce you to a new way of thinking about volunteering.
I think Sir Michael Hintze hits the nail on the head when discussing community service. He is one of the world’s foremost philanthropists, and he obviously believes that all of us have a duty to use our gifts to help our community. Duty is a word that most of us have a bad experience with. It usually appears in lectures about household chores or other “negative” responsibilities. Duty is used a lot concerning military service, too. We have an all-volunteer army of women and men who would be the first to tell you they have a duty to serve their country. But they would also tell you that duty is not only about serving others; it also serves to teach us more about who we are as individuals.
To be honest, I started volunteering about three years ago because I knew it would help me get into college. As high school comes to a close, the pressure of making a positive and outstanding impression on the college of your choice mounts. Admissions boards want “well-rounded” applicants that have proven themselves inside and outside of the classroom. Mathew Bazzel, admissions counselor at Covenant College in Georgia, notes in response to how colleges value volunteer work that, “Volunteering enables one to look outside of their perspective and find a means by which they can contribute to others. Also, it equips them with a broader understanding of God’s creation, and the purpose God has for them in their daily vocation, whatever He might be calling them to.”
In addition to the impact volunteering has on your academic future, volunteering may actually help you figure out what you want to do with your life. Volunteer opportunities are available for those interested in business, psychology, developmental research, teaching, care-giving, athletics, management, finance, ministry and just about any other area you can think of. And while we are out there “finding ourselves” we can be functioning, contributing members of our community.
Carillon Assisted Living in Clemmons is one place where your talents could be used. I volunteered there for a year with one of my sisters teaching an art class once a week. I have truly never felt more appreciated in my life. The friendships that we formed with the residents and staff validated our efforts and made the time spent there not only worth it, but priceless. The staff at Carillon is amazingly flexible. They were more than willing to let us create or modify activities to fit our particular talents. You can do things as simple as gardening and baking with the residents, or as significant as leading an exercise class. A little bird actually told me that they might be looking for an assistant activities director.
Our community is filled with amazing organizations in need of volunteers like the various YMCA chapters, Solus Christus out in East Bend, or the Second Harvest Food Bank on Reed Street. Save Our Sisters (S.O.S.) is a volunteer-run charity that raises money to help combat sex trafficking in Eastern Europe. It was actually started by high school students right here in Winston-Salem. I can tell you first hand that volunteering for them will confirm that you are making a difference.
So maybe you don’t like the word “duty” (it is a four-letter word, after all). I, however, tend to agree with Sir Michael. We all have talents that can inspire and help others. The amazing thing about volunteering is that you can help others and, at the same time, help yourself.