A wise man once said, “Generally speaking, the most miserable people I know are those who are obsessed with themselves; the happiest people I know are those who lose themselves in the service of others…By and large, I have come to see that if we complain about life, it is because we are thinking only of ourselves.”
I have spent the last few weeks at an elementary school testing immigrant student’s academic English proficiency. The school at which I was testing is 70% immigrant children. These children and their families are in great need! After testing some children I literally wanted to weep because of their struggles. These kids are hungry, struggling in school, and struggling with self-worth. Their parents worked long hours at labor intensive jobs and have little time or energy to spend with their children. It broke my heart. But it was also a blessing. It helped me appreciate all that I have. I was also privileged to witness the volunteers at this school.
Every day dozens of volunteers come into the school to help these children and their families in countless ways. Dentists offered free exams and cleaning. Retired grandfathers and grandmothers come to the school to help teach English and hygiene. Parents volunteered in after school programs to keep the children involved in positive activities such as Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts.
It was amazing to watch people sacrifice their time to help others…and love every moment of it! These volunteers are sending the message to these kids, “You matter! You are able to set and achieve goals! Never give up!”
There is such need in every community for volunteers, no matter the socioeconomic class. Elderly need companionship, schools need help with vision and hearing screenings, Big Brothers and Big Sisters, Mothers Without Boarders…the list is endless.
Simple acts of kindness can also count as volunteering. When was the last time you took cookies to your neighbor, or helped them shovel snow from their walk? Have you ever given blood or tied quilts for the local children’s hospital?
Here is a challenge: Look around your community this week. Find one way to volunteer or give back. Then come back here and inspire us all! Post experiences and links to your favorite place to volunteer!
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