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Volunteer Match

VOLUNTEERS: Who Needs Them?
by Victor De'Prey

The world does.

In fact, many of the largest organizations, both for-profit and non-profit, depend on their volunteers to get things done and keep their institutions rolling along.

Internships, a word which has been maligned recently thanks to the Washington merry-go-round, is an excellent way for a novice to learn about an organizations workings, particularly if it's in a field they plan to enter as a profession.

Without volunteers, the Red Cross, Salvation Army, food banks, homeless shelters, film restoration centers, hospitals and many other groups could not exist or would have to operate within very limited service capabilities. It is the volunteer, contributing time and sometimes personal resources, that keeps all such establishments open for business.

Who is a volunteer? You are. Sometimes we don't realize we're volunteering, such as when we open a door for someone with an armful of packages - you've just volunteered to be a good samaritan without thought of compensation. Or, you may deliberately seek out a service organization and join them to volunteer on a regular basis.

What do volunteers do? Everything from A to Z. From the president of the Lions Clubs International, the worlds largest service organization, to the candy striper who wheels you down a hospital corridor, you've been served by a volunteer. We do many, many things in service to humanity. Perhaps one of the best known volunteers was Nobel Prize winner Sister Theresa. She chose her way of life in order to serve.

I'm not a bible pounder nor do I belong to an organized religious group but there are many waysto keep the faith. The good book charges us ". . through love serve, one another." (Gal. 5:13). We've been taught since childhood that it's better to give than to receive; maybe it's because the rewards far outweigh the "costs".


A few years back I joined a local chapter of a Lions Club in Oregon because I thought it would be a good place to make business contacts. I was wrong. It's a good place to meet people who are willing to give of themselves on a regular basis in order to improve their community and enhance the quality of life for friends, neighbors and strangers.

One of my first responsibilities was to handle the case of a child whose mother called to inform us that the child had difficulty reading the blackboard and didn't care to read school assignments at home. The school nurse thought the child may need glasses. Because she was a single mother barely able to provide for her family she was told she could call our club and we might be able to help. After a preliminary review by the club the child was sent to a cooperating eye doctor who diagnosed her and prescribed glasses; our club paid for everything. A few months later I chanced to meet the mom at the supermarket and inquired about the child. I was informed the child's grades went from C's to A's in one semester because she could see everything now and had an incentive to read. I can't describe how I felt at that exact moment except that a warm, fuzzy feeling came all over me. I felt ten feet tall and proud to be a Lion volunteer.

To answer the question, what do volunteers get: We get warm fuzzies all over the place. Only another volunteer can know what that feels like and that's why we do it. Financial gain is not part of a volunteers lexicon.

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