On more than one occasion, I’ve had close friends and family members say to me: “I didn’t get involved with volunteer activities until after my children were grown”.  I’m sure when the comment was made it was offered as a personal reflection shared with the intention of shedding light on the simple fact that life presents many demands on our time. Most of us are striving to maintain a balance between family commitments and professional responsibilities and are challenged to fit into our schedules any “extra” activities.

During this time of year I’m particularly sensitive to how precious time can be, yet I’m continually amazed by the passion and devotion I see individuals dedicate to causes that are close to their heart. Recently I’ve been following a story on Facebook about an infant’s struggle with Epidermolysis Bullosa; a rare skin condition that causes blisters with just the slightest touch. With each update and new photo, I find this little fighter in my thoughts and prayers more and more. I was actually brought to tears the day he was able to return home with his family. All of this genuine emotion resides in a place in my heart for a lad I have never met. The people who have rallied for him and raised money and awareness for this disease are simply remarkable.

Baby Easton Friedel

What are the motivators that turn an individual into a volunteer? What are the qualities that they possess and how do they find the time to give so much of themselves? For each person the answer is different. Every volunteer has their own story and their own special reasons. In my work with volunteers I’ve learned that what they have to offer is a true gift. It’s not just a gift of their time or resources, but a gift of themselves. When we work beside a tried and true volunteer we have the opportunity to learn from them. We  are inspired. We grow.

I feel fortunate to witness these continutal acts of good will in both my personal and professional sides of life. And because volunteering has been a part of my world for so long, it’s important to me as a parent to share this with my family. I hope in the new year ahead, you have the opportunity to find a cause that captures your attention and tugs on your heart just enough to create a volunteer opportunity for you. If you already volunteer, best wishes for a successful year reaching your personal giving goals!

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