Sunday, 12 February 2012

Get Involved! Get Involved!

Being involved in charity is a win win... why win win? Because one gets as much out of it as they put into it.  It certainly doesn’t mean someone does it for a selfish reason, it is simply a tertiary effect, so I write this blog to share all the things I have found that I personally benefit from being involved, in hopes that others will see the personal benefits and be inspired to get involved.  And the more people who get involved in giving back, the better society will be! 
  1. You save money! I have so much going on on a regular basis I don’t have time to shop, whether it be browsing online or going shopping on a saturday.  Also, because you are so occupied with other things (planning events, helping getting things organized) you don’t have as much time to watch tv, read magazines and ‘want’ for the latest fashions, trends etc.  You also start to surround yourself with people who are more focused on charity and not superficial things that you do not have to validate yourself with material things. 
  2. You learn a lot about yourself - doing things on a volunteer basis has a certain liberation.  I was never quite sure of myself, my strengths and my capabilities, until getting involved.  When you are young and new to the work force, there is a pressure you feel, at least I did.  Getting involved in charity has allowed me to break out of that shell and figure out that I am capable, and also, to constantly evaluate my weaknesses and improve. 
  3. You learn what is actually important to you! and with that you build self-confidence.  Getting involved has helped me figure out who I really am.  To embrace my passions and beliefs I have become a stronger person.  I stand strong on certain issues and have flexibility on others.  I no longer worry if everyone agrees with me or if everyone likes me.  It has helped me to figure out my life purpose and put me on a direct path that no one can pull me off of.  
  4. You look out of your ‘bubble’ and gain a better perspective on life - perhaps this can also tie into saving money.  All of a sudden having the most stylish clothes, gadgets and ‘things’ loses importance.  It falls to the back burner as your primary thoughts are about helping whichever cause you are dedicated to helping.  You have more constructive things to discuss.  I will never forget this quote that was on my english teacher’s wall.  “Great Minds Discuss Ideas, Average Minds Discuss Events, and Simple Minds Discuss People” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt.  Petty gossip and idle chit chat no longer holds the importance that it once did, because you gain a wider perspective on life and can see past the little bubble you were once trapped in.   
  5. You meet a lot of people that you have a lot in common with and meet amazing people that you aspire to be.  I have made so many new friends and met so many amazing people through charity work.  The conversations I have had and the advice I have received from people who have been involved for decades longer are invaluable.  I am honored to be friends or acquainted with the people I have met since October 2009.   
  6. Your social calendar is packed - I am never bored! If i do have a quiet evening that I have the luxury of relaxing, reading or a morning to sleep in, it is worth more than gold.  Between meetings, fundraising events, volunteer events you always have something great to do, and it is nice to know it is for positive reasons. 
  7. Embracing different personalities - When we are in our ‘safe bubble’ we hang out with people that are just like us.  People we have known for years, people who do the same things as us etc, so life is pretty easy.  When you start volunteering you are inevitably going to meet a lot of people that are different from you.  When you see that you are all fighting for the same cause and learn to accept people’s differences its a growing experience.  It also transfers over to everyday parts of your lives and you appreciate different personalities.  We are all struggling to survive, whatever our struggles may be - some may struggle trying to make ends meet, some may hate their job, some may be going through a difficult divorce, the list is endless.  You never know how much a simple smile can do.  
  8. You can feel proud that you are part of the solution and not part of the problem.  It is so easy to complain.  I hear it all the time - ‘they’ should really be doing this better, ‘they’ need to do this.  People do not like to break out of their comfort zone and routine and always make excuses for why they cannot help.  Even if you start with one hour once a month you are making a difference.  I’m not saying one has to be involved in every aspect of bettering society, but simply choose one aspect that is important to you.  We’re all working towards the common goal - helping better the beautiful country we live in.  So ask yourself, are you part of the solution? ‘cause if you are not - then yes, you are part of the problem... Superman is not going to show up and solve all of our problems, and I personally, I’m certainly not expecting our government to either... 
  9. You realize how fortunate you really are - whatever area you choose to work in charity, whether it be helping the elderly, children, animals, sick - you will take inventory on your own life.  Naturally, working in animal welfare we aren’t working in wealthy neighborhoods... We are working in areas where people do not know how to properly care for their animal or cannot afford to do so.  It is so easy to get caught up in wanting for more - we live in a world of consumerism and we are taught to desire nicer and more.  When you work with people who can barely feed their children, kids who are wearing shoes that are falling apart, let alone pay for the spay or neuter of their dog, you realize that having a house, food on the table, and clothes in your closet, and a job are all you really need - the rest is gravy.  You can really see the true value in what you are so blessed to have. 
  10. You face and overcome personal challenges - one of the things I am most happy with is overcoming my fear of public speaking.  I never thought I would be able to go on the radio and speak, but when no one else was available and it wasn’t going to happen if I did not step up to the plate, I had no choice.  I was nervous as all get out.  Then I was asked to speak at a Rotary meeting.  Holy Crap! Never in my life did I think I could do that.  But when you care about something bigger than yourself, you take a deep breath and just do it.  And over time it has gotten easier and easier.  I was even able to make a speech at my best friend’s wedding.  Something I thought I would never have the guts to do! 

In closing, I’ve heard all the excuses - “I don’t have time, my emotions cannot handle it, I wouldn’t be any good,” but thats all they are... excuses.  If you really care about the world becoming a better place, get involved... and you’ll see how you really do get back what you put in. 
If one person that reads this is inspired to give back to their community my time writing it was well-worth it! 

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