Why I volunteer

Have you ever done something and not given it a lot of thought? Not reflected on the why? Do something because it feels right? I have done all of those things.

In writing this post I have scribbled/scratched out words on five pieces of paper (yup I’m handwriting it first) and even tried making a graphic organizer to help me put into words the reasons I volunteer. I looked at what motivates others who volunteer. Then I searched for quotes to help me with a theme; everything with me has to have a theme.  I chose a quote by Shirley Chisholm, a politician, author and educator.  Maybe it was a fact that she was an educator that drew me in. There are variations to her quote, one very similar by Muhammad Ali, but I just didn’t see myself as a Prizefighter. But more about the quote later.

People volunteer for a variety of reasons/motives: to help others, to connect with a community, to feel involved and engaged, to contribute to a cause that you care about, to use your skills in a productive way are among just a few.  These reasons/motives rang true with me. They helped me put into words why I do what I do.

  1.  I help others when I participate in various organizational events or when I coach Special Olympics athletes. I help bring awareness to the organizations and I help athletes develop their athletic and social skills.
  2. I am connected to communities I believe in by volunteering for Alpha Sigma Alpha, Special Olympics, Relay For Life and within the Parkinson’s community. When I am connected with these communities I am constantly learning and growing.
  3.  I am involved and engaged by participating in competitions, assisting families to find resources, attending organizational meetings and participating in outreach for Special Olympics.
  4. I contribute to causes that I care about because my family has been impacted by cancer, Parkinson’s Disease and intellectual disabilities.  I want to do what I can to help provide needed funds for research and program development.
  5. And last but never least I use my special education training in a productive way outside of the school setting.  My training helps me when coaching Special Olympics athletes, they helped me while raising my now adult son with a disability and they provided me with the knowledge needed to be a caregiver for my dad who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease almost 5 years ago.

All of that said, I am closing with the quote from Shirley Chisholm, “Service is the rent we pay for the privilege of living on this earth”.  What “rent” do you pay? 

–Joanne Weber Catron, Alpha


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