Monday, April 24, 2006

A Thousand Points of Light

I read a really interesting article this morning in the Wall Street Journal about volunteerism and the senior citizen. Now, while I am not quite at the point of being considered a senior citizen, I did learn a lot from the article. The article discussed some tips to use when a person is agreeing to volunteer.

Keeping busy is so important at every age, and certainly this is true as we age. How many times have you known someone to retire and notice how they age if they do not remain active? At the end of her life, I saw it in my own mother. Illness seems to creep in and take over when a person becomes content to sit in the house and watch television all day while neglecting social contact with the outside world. Seems like such a sad life.

I grew up in a house where my parents practiced volunteerism and led by example on the subject. Even though my father travelled at least three weeks a month, Monday thru Friday with weekends at home, he was active in a local men's (at the time) group and in our church. He would have liked to accept the position of Deacon in the church he was offered more than once, but that was something requiring someone in town more than he.

My mother volunteered through Junior League, eventually serving as President. She was a volunteer at our schools and even mastered "new math" when it was the rage to tutor students. In her later years she worked with a homeless men's shelter and then fundraising for cancer research.

Most of my volunteering has been through my son's schools. However, when I was turning 40, I was desperate for a purpose, a reason to get out of the house and make a mark. I found the purpose in a trio of local women in Lafayette who were working to open a Children's Museum. I was wanting to use time on my hands while my son was in kindergarten. It was the hardest physical work I have ever done as there was no budget for workers to convert the old building into the museum. It was great. When it finally opened I was on staff as Educational Director, coordinating field trips from the school - a prime source of income for the museum. I also booked the birthday party room and oversaw the parties. It was a very interesting time.

I left my mark.

I have volunteered to help with grant writing next year at my son's high school. Grant writing is something I have been studying off and on for the last couple of years. I had a mentor for a while until she became too busy with starting her own business. So, the opportunity through the school should jumpstart my ambition again. I am looking forward to it.

"No one grows old by living, only by losing interest in living.: - Marie Beynon Ray


srp said...

Even when working full time I tried to volunteer at Nyssa's school, to meet the parents and get to know the teachers better and frankly, just to have fun and actually talk about something other than work with another adult.

poopie said...

My parents are still volunteers at the hospital where I work. It seems to keep them alive and kickin'.

AC said...

I too volunteered at Jenny's elementary school all 6 years and really missed the interaction when she started middle school and parents were not *enjoyed* there. I'm a little afraid of large groups of children and the young ones kind of smell funny to me so it was a challenge. I found I could win over almost all of them with a decorated character cake. Those were great days, really.