As I write this, I’m returning from another day of volunteering behind the scenes for the popular Oakdale Mini Mustang fundraising event. I’m sweaty, tired, and my feet hurt but I don’t mind the extra work.
Because for 274 little girls, this event puts stars in their eyes and smiles on their young faces and suddenly, it’s all worth it.
Like many parents, I’ve spent a good chunk of my kids’ childhood volunteering in some capacity. It just so happens that even though my last baby graduated a few months ago, I’m still clocking in.
Again, you might ask, why would I pile on extra work when it’s no longer expected of me? It’s simple — I volunteer for the kids.
My daughter, a cheerleader for 11 years, came with me to volunteer. Now she’s paying it forward for all the years she’s benefited from someone else’s volunteer hours.
But I’ve noticed a distressing trend over the years.
Less people are stepping up to lighten the load, placing a heavy expectation on the dwindling numbers available to help.
The thing is, good volunteers get burnt out when there’s not enough help to balance the workload. My grandmother’s favorite saying, “Many hands make for light work” is true.
I’ve seen it happen over and over when it shouldn’t — there are plenty of people who could pitch in but have chosen not to.
To that I say, they’re missing out on a rewarding experience, the potential of new friendships, and a good feeling in their soul knowing they’ve put some chips in the ‘Good Karma’ jar.
I’ve had the pleasure of working beside some amazing people, enjoyed some great friendships, and shared many laughs all the while putting in some good ol’ fashioned sweat equity into the success of a program or event.
We are on this blue marble for a relatively short time and our legacy will be the memories we leave behind.
So, if you haven’t had the chance to roll up your sleeves and volunteer — take your pick, there’s always something, somewhere that needs extra hands — I encourage you to give it a try.
You might just find you really enjoy it.
I can almost promise you; your help will be appreciated.
Kim Van Meter is a former full-time reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Escalon Times and The Riverbank News; she continues to provide a monthly column. She can be reached at email@example.com.