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The spot for the good news, the good word, the quick reports of the many, many wonderful news items I hear all the time and want to share with the rest of you. Expect to find the good news when you come to check out "what’s the good word?"

Monday, January 3, 2011

Volunteer

I sought for happiness and happiness eluded me, I turned to service and happiness found me. - Confucius


Volunteerism was in the news several times in 2010. For instance there was a story I can no longer find (was it in the Auditor General’s report?) that claimed the number of Canadians volunteering has declined by something like 18%. Upon hearing that, I remember thinking that the implications of that were huge for many organizations, and especially for Community of Christ which functions almost totally on the work of volunteers.

Then in October, David Johnston was sworn in as the new Governor General of Canada. In his speech given as part of that ceremony, Johnson emphasized service to country, family and community. He went on to articulate what he sees as the three pillars of a “smart and caring nation”: supporting families and children, reinforcing learning and innovation, and encouraging philanthropy and volunteerism.

Many people offer their services as volunteers in a wide variety of causes. They give time to raise money for charitable organizations like World Accord or the Cancer Society. They serve on the boards of not for profit organizations, tutor at-risk children, assist older seniors, support their faith communities; the list goes on and on.

Why do they do it? There are a wide variety of reasons. Probably first and foremost, many volunteers report wanting to “give something back.” These are people who know they have been blessed and who want to do something for someone else. Others get involved in volunteering because of a personal experience. For example, cancer survivors who have benefited from the generosity of others in their therapy may find themselves more willing to work on the annual fundraising campaign, or be a volunteer driver taking others to the clinic for treatment. Others volunteer as a way of living out their religious convictions, whether Sikh, Christian, Muslim, or any other.

Volunteering is not a one-way street, however, since those who give of their time and talents also reap great personal benefits for their service. Numerous studies indicate that not only do those who give of themselves experience the joy of giving, they report being happier, healthier, and even living longer. For example, the Harvard Study of Adult Development found that people who give of themselves for community building and guiding the next generation triple their chances that their seventies will be a time of joy rather than despair. Other studies demonstrate that volunteering with children seems to be especially rewarding, particularly for seniors.

There is much that could be said on this subject; more than can be articulated here so I will stop but you don’t need to. What has brought you joy in your volunteer experience? As 2011 begins, do you plan to give of your time? Where will you serve?

Posted by Carman

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