A year ago I was laid off from a job I had for six years, a job I created because I felt a need in the community. (You can read all about it in the Healing Arts section of my website.) It was sort of an accident that I ended up getting paid for work that felt so good to my core. The Healing and Empowerment Program at Quest Center for Integrative Health served many people but it also served a need in me, the need to express gratitude for having made it through cancer treatment and for getting a big reality check every day about how lucky I was /am to still be here, living my life. That's what volunteering can be like! Not only are you helping others, you are getting something out of the bargain!
Recently I have been volunteering at Portland's Children's Healing Art Project, a very cool organization that brings the joy of art making to sick kids in area hospitals and their families who are needing support too. You might think that I am working directly with kids, stringing golden beads with them for the Million Bead Project or getting messy with paint and glue side by side with smiling kids hooked up to IV's. Nope! The way CHAP differentiates those people who just need some extra community service or school credits and those who are going to be able to make longer term connections with the kids is to have volunteers make a 6-12 month commitment to working on projects in the CHAP art-y offices, gathering up art supplies, splatter painting their signature envelopes for event invitations or, and this is the fun activity everybody loves, gluing sequins on the brightly kid-painted items to be auctioned off to further support CHAP's mission. My 16-year old son has started accompanying me to volunteer, needing to do some volunteer hours for his High School Honor Society Club. I am trying to model how it's not the glamourous work that really needs the getting done but the behind the scenes work that any service organization runs on. And it's fun! SO.... here's my pitch: Want to feel good about a couple of spare hours during the week that you weren't using any way? Volunteer Today! Maybe at CHAP or maybe at some organization whose mission you can really get behind. It feels good and makes the world a better place.