My friends and family ask me all the time why I volunteer. I never really can explain why I do other than I just really enjoy it and it keeps me sane in my engineering job which has me in a cubicle all day. I volunteer at two different departments, I am putting myself through EMT school, and the academy. Right now I say I'll never be a career fire fighter, the reason for commissioning is to be able to work paid relief shifts. With that being said I found this article on volunteering and found it very close to the way I think about it.
Why I Volunteer
Some days, I feel as if I am an anachronism in modern America. Intellectually, I know this is not true, for I work with other dedicated volunteers. I also know people who volunteer in other organizations. But in our modern society, with the seeming focus on individualism and consumerism, I sometimes feel as if I am somehow out of time and place. It is my hope that I can explain why I feel this way and also help other people to understand. More importantly, I hope I can communicate why volunteering is not only a good thing for society, but for individuals.
It has been said, that eighty percent of the work in any group is done by twenty percent of the people. This is a "rule of thumb", but somehow I feel as if it does contain a germ of truth. I think this is not necessarily true in a volunteer organization, but it does appear to be so in society in general, and American society in particular.
I say I sometimes feel like an anachronism and I think this requires some explanation. I am one of those people, who some would call naive, because I actually believe in some of the precepts that were once defined as good citizenship. As a young man working toward my Eagle Scout rank, I learned that being a citizen had two aspects. In the interplay of life, these aspects of citizenship were intertwined and sometimes in tension, but always both applied. These aspects of citizenship are (1) My rights end where another's rights start and (2) I have responsibilities as a citizen, as well as rights. As an American, I see the society propagated by the media and culture all focused on rights and rabid individualism. What saddens me, is that so many people seems to be completely oblivious to their responsibilities as citizens, but completely cognizant of their rights, be they real or imagined.
As a man of forty-two years of age, my beliefs in these aspects of citizenship have not diminished. Indeed, my commitment to their value has increased because I have come to truly understand why I hold them. So why do I volunteer thousands of hours of my life to helping other people? Let me briefly give some reasons.
* The philosophy embodied in western culture comes from the Judeo-Christian roots and these are admirable. They include such things as "loving your neighbor as yourself" and "caring for the poor and people in need".
* That I am a part of society, with obligations to be a full citizen. This requires that I give back to society or as a recent movie said, "Pay It Forward".
* I am a human being.
I get out of bed in the middle of the night; I go out in hurricane force winds; I wade through mud and goop after floods; and I train weekly. I do all of this for one over-riding reason that encompasses my detailed reasons. I do all of this because I care. I care if an elderly person with Alzheimer's is missing, because I have a grandmother too. I care if a small child is reported missing, because I have children of my own. I care if people are without homes because of a hurricane or a flood, because it could be me someday. I care if person is in need of food and shelter, for there but "for the grace of God go I". I care because I am a human being, living in a human society.
I hope that our society will once again return to those days when most people cared about others and volunteered to help. Not just when the big hurricane or earthquake hits, but when the small, everyday things happen. I hope for a day when my fellow citizens get tired of the latest Hollywood celebrity idiocy, turn off their televisions and go out to help their neighbor. I hope for a society once again, where people are willing to walk away from the millionaires playing games in giant stadiums, to play games with their children. I hope for a return to a society that is not focused on "me" or the latest celebrity.
I volunteer my time, my money and my life, because living in a society means being responsible to society and all the members of it. I hope you will volunteer too or at least say thank you to the volunteer firefighter, emergency medical technician, search & rescue technician, PTA person or any of the other people who help others everyday.
Chief Bruce D. White....27 February 2007
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Thread: Why I Volunteer
03-21-2007, 10:06 AM #1
- Join Date
- Mar 2007
Why I Volunteer
03-26-2007, 01:40 PM #2
- Join Date
- Aug 2003
- Lansing, KS USA
Excuse me, I have something in my eye. A nice way to put it. But there is one other reason why I am a volunteer. I love taking that nozzle into the flames. I was also lucky to get a job as a firefighter. My expierence with the volunteers helped me get that job. So I also feel I owe the department for that, and since I still live in a town where we have a volunteer fire department, well mostly now, somebody has to do it. The rest is just perks. Another cool reason is when we visit the schools and the reaction from the kids we get makes all of what we do worth every minute. There is nothing better than seeing a childs face with a big smile and curious bright eyes. That one reaction alone can make a bad day good.Vintage Firefighter: The older I get, the braver I was.
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