Sunday, May 29, 2011


What is a volunteer and what does it mean to me? A volunteer is someone who sees a need and willingly gives their time, their talents, their resources, or their money to find a solution or help the cause to make something better. A volunteer may never see the end result of his efforts. A volunteer may join a group that has already been working toward a goal, may start his own group or work alone. A volunteer may apply his efforts to raise money to find a cure, to better someone else’s life, pay a medical debt for a family in need, or provide food, clothing or shelter. A volunteer may strive to save the earth or the life of an animal. A volunteer may work to ease the pain of a grieving person or one close to death. A volunteer may provide a home for a child from a dysfunctional family. A volunteer may help someone through an addiction problem, available 24/7 as needed. A volunteer may read to a child or help him with homework. A volunteer may make afghans for the aged or provide a blanket for a homeless person. A volunteer may donate time to teach.  A volunteer may risk his life to put out a fire. There are many more reasons and causes for people to volunteer.
There are many organizations that can use help from volunteers and there are many people who donate their help. People are limited by time and financial resources making them choose which cause(s) to donate to or of which to partake.  I try to volunteer to causes close to my heart. If I said “yes” to every request made of me, my causes would be neglected and my life would be in chaos. A person should decide what is important to them when choosing an organization or cause in which to volunteer.  Because a person does not choose to volunteer in a certain organization does not negate that organization’s worth. It simply means that this person does not have enough time or money to support this group along with the other organizations he or she already supports.
 Ken and I volunteer at Mosquito Lake Campgrounds in Cortland, Ohio as VIP’s (volunteer in park). Although the acronyn for volunteer in park is VIP, we don’t think we are special or very important people as some might think those letters signify.
We are a couple who love to camp and love this campground and want to see it thrive. We want many generations after us to be able to enjoy this park’s bounties; it’s beauty, the lake, the flora, the fish and nature’s creatures. For this reason, we volunteer as camp hosts. Our goal is to see this park preserved and maintained. As camp hosts, we try to keep this campground clean by picking up litter, cleaning campsites, reporting problems that we see, helping campers who have needs. Ken has certain weekends that he is scheduled to help in the check in station and we show movies several times during the summer. We maintain the sites as they are vacated, whether that is during the week or on weekends. We walk through the park picking up papers, cans, cigarette butts and anything else that takes away from the beauty of this park. After a storm, we remove limbs, sticks and debris from the roads. We report anything that we see as dangerous activity, something that will harm the park, people or nature.
We also volunteer for the American Cancer Society by partaking in Liberty’s Relay for Life.  Ken and I have each lost our fathers and a brother to cancer as well as other family members. There are many ways to raise money for causes and Relay for Life has worked for the ACS. I served as captain of WeatherTite Windows Relay for Life team for three years and have been a member of the team for six or seven years.  We have raised over $10,000.00 each year. Relay for Life is a 24 hour event that is tiring but rewarding. We work all yearlong raising money but also raise a large portion at the Relay event. Each team comes up with their own ideas about how to raise money for the cause.
I have been so blessed in this life and it is a privilege for me to give back. My hours are limited due to work and family but I do what I can. I may not do as much as some other people are capable of doing but I do try to make a difference.
If you are not volunteering or giving back, I would suggest you give it a try. Sometimes I don’t look forward to the Relay for Life event because I know how much work it is and how tiring it is. But at the end of the event, I feel so good about what was accomplished. When I stop to think about the small amount of my time that I have donated versus the amount of time the people battling cancer have to deal with it each and every day, it gives me cause to keep on. What I do is so little compared to what they are going through.  Volunteering will lift your spirits and make you feel much better about yourself. At the end of a day you can know you made a difference in someone else’s life.

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