Volunteering: Why "Giving Back" Will Become Your Favorite Day of the Week by Elisa Schmitz
There is so much going on around us that is negative. From hurricanes and forest fires to violence and political strife, it seems like things often go from bad to worse. But it's important not to get stuck in a downward spiral of negative thinking and feelings of helplessness. Because the reality is, we are not helpless and there is always hope.
One of the best things I have found to feel positive is to volunteer. Giving back is the single best thing that makes me feel better; that the world is a positive place. When you give back, you find other people who also want to make the world better. Being around these positive folks creates a shift in your mind that will make your whole day brighter. In fact, "Giving Back" just may become your favorite day of the week.
Recently, my friend Karen told my husband and I about an event in our community to help The Night Ministry, an organization that offers housing, healthcare and human connection to members of the Chicago community struggling with poverty or homelessness. "With an open heart and an open mind, we accept people as they are and address their immediate physical, emotional and social needs while affirming their sense of humanity," The Night Ministry states.
On a Sunday afternoon, we gathered at our local rec center and, in addition to a monetary donation, our group made 200 lunches and 200 hygiene kits for those in need. From Girl Scouts, police officers and teachers to moms, dads and kids of all ages, we worked together until it was done (the time just flew by). The best part? Everyone was smiling. We all felt great to be doing something that would actually touch people and make life better.
How can you make a difference? Here's a starting point:
- Look for opportunities in your community to volunteer, either individually or in group settings. My time as a Girl Scout leader and school board member enabled me to give back in many ways, such as working in soup kitchens with my children.
- Ask yourself where you want to direct your energy: To the homeless? To hurricane or wildfire victims? To those affected by gun violence, etc? Then find organizations that could use your help.
- The Night Ministry needs ongoing donations of clothing, food, hygiene kits, winter gear and gifts to give out to children during the holidays. Please contact them for more information.
Consider volunteering as a family, too. When kids grow up giving back to others, it opens up the world, and opens up their heart.
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