Why aren’t more people like them?

I spoke with three people this week about their volunteering, each of them remarkable in that they have made volunteering a part of their lives as naturally as some of us make exercise or reading the paper every day a part of our lives. Obviously, not everyone thinks of volunteering the same way, so I’m wondering what makes it so for these folks.

David Courreges

I don’t think they know themselves. When I start to ask them about why they volunteer they look at me as if to say, “I don’t know, doesn’t everyone?” I get some clues by asking the question a different way. When I asked David Courreges, an active volunteer and lawyer, about how he came to his first volunteer experience he said, “I knew this guy and he made me do it.” Well, no one actually made him do anything, he admitted. In fact, his reponse to other questions about why he feels called to service go something like this: “They asked me if I could or it looked like they needed help, so I helped.”

It’s so clear to them. It’s obvious. Theres’s a need, they fill that need.

This morning, I talked to the president and immediate-past president of Les Amis de Hospice Austin, Donna Thomas and Mary Wilson. Their responses to similar questions were … about the same. Someone asks them, they step up. Even when they’re not asked directly, they see that there’s a need and they volunteer to help.

Now, the reason this boggles my mind is that, quite frankly, I see the need all the time, too. I read the church bulletin on Sundays and note all the calls for help. I think to myself, “I ought to do that, I don’t think I have anything going on that day. That would probably be fun.” But I rarely do it.

Couple of (lame) reasons that I can think of: 1. I won’t know anybody and will feel awkward and maybe even a little stupid. 2. What if I’m not good at it and I look like an idiot. 3. I should probably exercise/pay bills/clean the house/spend time with my family instead. 4. What if nobody likes me.

Wow, I’ve never written those out… but those are actually about it. All vain, insecure, self important … like my pitching in to sort donations or wrap presents or deliver food IS ALL ABOUT ME.

I don’t think David, Donna, or Mary think this way. Do other people think this way? Maybe the first and most important selfless act is to stop thinking about yourself. Maybe once you’ve achieved that, you’re open to anything.

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One Response

  1. hey monica. you hit it right on the nail. most people don’t volunteer because they’ve never been asked. engaging people in volunteering is all about personal asks and it goes beyond the bulletin. i always make it a point to personally ask someone to get involved and y’know they do it just because i asked them directly. yeah, its that easy!

    mando
    http://unitedwaycapitalarea.blogspot.com/

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