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There was a time that I didn’t volunteer. I worked at a non-profit and thought working for a non-profit’s salary was more than enough. Then something happened that changed my life-I lost my grandfather.
If you looked up community volunteer in the dictionary you would see my grandfather’s picture. OK, you wouldn’t, but you should. He was an amazing man. How mowed the grass at the local Boys and Girls Club baseball field. He repaired broken fences at community parks. He helped pretty much every member of his church who was in need.
At his funeral I was overwhelmed by the stories I heard from people I never met, talking about what a wonderful man he was. The local baseball stadium even built a playground at the end of right field as a memorial to him. I then realized that I needed to do more. I wanted to do more. I wanted to make my grandfather proud.
I started out simply enough. The tsunami hit southeast Asia and I was heartbroken watching the news coverage. I was dead broke but I made a small donation to The Red Cross and to UNICEF. And I felt great. And I wanted to feel that great more often.
The fire was ignited. A coworker was diagnosed with breast cancer so I organized a team for the local walk. I met someone who had stayed at The Ronald McDonald house so I put a collection box for pop tops in all of our office break rooms. I kept finding little things I could do to give back in some small way.
Another thing then happened that changed my life. I became friends with the development director at the local AIDS services agency. His passion for his job was amazing. I began to attend their fundraising events. I met their volunteers. Most importantly I met some of the clients they served. His passion soon became a passion of my own.
Around the holidays he asked me if I would be willing to chair the AIDS Walk that year. I hadn’t even attended this event yet. It was five months away. I was terrified. He told me he wouldn’t have asked if he didn’t know I could do it. And he said they needed me. I said I would try.
I’m now working on my 6th walk. Times are tough. We’ve faced challenges I never expected. I can’t get a good night’s sleep for at least a month prior to the event. And I wouldn’t change a thing. It’s my favorite day of the year. (OK, maybe second favorite. I really do like Christmas.)
I realized I had found my grandfather’s secret. Volunteering and giving back is about finding your passion. Find a cause you are passionate about and it won’t feel like work, it will fall like your calling.
Think about what you are passionate about. Is it education? A medical condition? The environment? There’s a part of your community that’s out there waiting for you to bring your passion. And you’ll have the time of your life!
Don’t forget to help Walgreens help others! Visit their Facebook page here to learn about their charitable partners and decide which cause Walgreens will donate to with a quick vote. I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective, which endorses Blog With Integrity, as I do.