by Carol Grinage, volunteer contributor, American Red Cross North Texas Region
When we open our e-mail and social media, we are encouraged to show our support for a charitable cause by clicking the “Like” button. We click the button, but somewhere in the back of our minds, we know that clicking the “Like” button isn’t enough, and we want to do more. The problem is that we don’t know how to help or where to help.
The first step is seeing how volunteers impact our community. National Philanthropy Day on November 15 is a day that “celebrates the charitable work that everyone does to make a difference and create an impact in their communities.” It is a day to recognize the many volunteers that give their time, money, and other resources to help others.
Volunteering does take our time, but the benefits are worth it. If you have never volunteered before, research how volunteering benefits both the giver and receiver of the help. Find a cause that makes you want to get out of bed in the morning and leave your comfort zone to help others.
By volunteering, you will see your community from a different viewpoint. You will meet your neighbors and make friends, and you will see how much your help is needed and appreciated.Jennifer Bedell, a volunteer with the Texoma Area Red Cross, began volunteering with the Red Cross after she retired and said, “When I retired and my purpose was no longer earning to provide for my family, I needed something to fill the void.
“I didn’t want to just donate money, although very important. I wanted to be involved with those in need. A hug, a bottle of water, a meal, kind words, and smile fill my heart, fulfill my desire to help, and gives me that much needed purpose,” she explains.
Volunteering cannot only provide the human contact we all need, but it also benefits the community because volunteers touch the lives of many.
Red Cross Board President Margaret Adams says she had once been a volunteer firefighter and saw “firsthand the devastation that fires and floods leave behind for families.”
“Volunteering with the Red Cross is just a small way that I can give back to Amarillo and the Panhandle whether it’s through disaster relief or helping families prevent disaster through the installation of smoke alarms and having emergency supplies ready in the event of a disaster. It’s a pleasure to work with a group that makes such a great impact in our community,” says Adams.
Not everyone is inclined to install smoke alarms or has the time to volunteer to help families affected by natural disasters. This doesn’t mean, however, that there isn’t a way to help.
The Red Cross has many types of volunteer opportunities to fit different skills and time restraints.
Go to the home page of your local Red Cross. Once on the page, click the tab that says “Volunteer” to get started with a quiz that will tell you the volunteer opportunities based on your availability and skills and the type of help you would like to provide.
The first step is always the hardest because it involves leaving your comfort zone, but it is the times in which we leave our comfort zones that we experience the greatest growth.
So…take that first step, and go to www.redcross.org/volunteer.