To be honest, the only reason I know that it is National Volunteer Week is that I saw a mention of it on Facebook. I didn’t really even know there was a National Volunteer Week. There is. According to the webpage for the national organization:
National Volunteer Week is an opportunity to recognize the impact of volunteer service and the power of volunteers to tackle society’s greatest challenges, to build stronger communities and be a force that transforms the world. Each year, we shine a light on the people and causes that inspire us to serve, recognizing and thanking volunteers who lend their time, talent and voice to make a difference in their communities....National Volunteer Week was established in 1974 and has grown exponentially each year.
Certainly there’s a whole lot of volunteering going on in Columbia/HoCo. Both Columbia Community Care and The Community Ecology Institute - Freetown Farm are powered by a committed workforce of volunteers. Over the years I have known people who volunteered at The Route One Day Center, The Howard County Conservancy, the Inner Arbor Trust, A-OK Mentoring-Tutoring, Neighbor Ride, Talk With Me Howard County, their children’s schools...
What does it take to become a volunteer? First and foremost: time. Having extra time is a privilege that not everyone has to give. You need to be committed enough to follow through. In Columbia/HoCo you may very well need transportation. Most of all you need to find a cause that motivates you enough to join in and be a part of its mission. If you feel deeply committed to their success you may very well want to do more to help them achieve it.
Volunteering can be the beginning of finding yourself engaged in a new sort of community, one that shares a common goal and attracts those with a desire to give of themselves. Some people meet new friends while volunteering. For others the cause for which they volunteer becomes a home away from home and/or the primary source of their social life.
Interested in volunteering? Howard County Government has a place on their website where you can search for something that fits your interests.
Have you ever volunteered locally? Was it a good experience? Would you recommend it to others? I am guessing that my readers are also deeply involved in their local communities. I’d love to know about the causes and institutions you support through the gift of time.