In a world of apparent turmoil, your role is a shining light
“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, "Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” – Fred Rogers
Turn on the TV News, or watch social media, or news sources, and you are faced with an avalanche of doom and gloom. War has returned to the streets in Europe, Covid still exists, wages are not keeping up with the soaring prices on everything. People are facing the choice in parts of Europe of “Eat or Heat”. Natural disasters become more intense and regular as the climate catastrophe continues.
It would be so easy to throw our hands in the air and simply give up. Give up caring. Give up giving. Yet rays of light continue to shine in our darkening globe. And one of those essential rays of light is volunteering. Volunteering is the tapping into the human condition to find the love and light that exists in all of us, if we allow it to be. Not just on a global scale but at a local level ,volunteers are ever present. It lies behind all the movements for a better world, for peace and harmony, and for a safer planet and future for our children and their children. In fact, I postulate that volunteering may be more vital today than in any moment in history.
And, there you are. You may have many different titles but you are leading, coordinating and facilitating volunteer movement. What a moment to be alive! What an opportunity for you to continue to effect change. It does not matter what roles the volunteers you lead are doing. Every volunteer role contributes to the betterment of our communities and society at large. Every drop in the ocean makes the ocean.
You are privileged to do what you do. You are change makers and dynamic. Everything you do in your profession has a ripple on effect that many don’t see. People are helping themselves through volunteering. People are helping others through volunteering. New friendships are being forged. Peoples lives can change because of volunteering. And there you are, in the middle of it all, sometimes wondering if you are making a difference. Sometimes wondering if you will ever be truly appreciated, or recognised, for the many skills you have, that you must have, to bring to the job that you do.
If you didn’t know it already let me tell you now. You are making a difference!
You have found yourself in a role that spreads love. You have found yourself in a role that inspires hope. Without you, the world would be a lesser place. You know the value of volunteering, you know the difference between empathy and sympathy. You have the skills to lead and motivate. You work to bring help to others. You work from a place of goodness. You now find yourself in a world where your so called “soft skills” are probably the most important skills, if our world is to be the planet we want to leave, for generations to come.
Ignore the naysayers. Let no one talk down your value. Have compassion for those who are ignorant about your role, the role of volunteers and the role we are playing to create better communities. Someday they too will come to understand. If you understand volunteering, and how to effectively lead volunteers, call yourself a professional and be proud of it.
You are a member of a worldwide growing profession that is leading volunteers. There are people, just like you, connecting and networking and helping each other in this global village. If you haven’t found a network ... seek one out.
The Volunteer Management Profession is one of the kindest professions in the world. They so often want to help you succeed, give you tips and advice, and often are there just to listen. Its what you do already, for the volunteers your work for.
The Philosopher Alan Watts once said “This is the real secret of life -- to be completely engaged with what you are doing in the here and now. And instead of calling it work, realize it is play.”
When you are passionate about volunteering, when you are passionate about your shared mission, when you are passionate about your profession, you will create the magic. You will help create the actions of people helping others, the formation of friendships that will last for a reason, a season, or a lifetime, and you will continue to make a difference.
Todays world needs more people like you. In your role you may come across challenges, disappointments, and difficult persons. Try reframing your perception and see opportunities, learnings, and people who may need your compassion. As Marian Williamson once said “What is not love, is a cry for love”
You have such a busy role. Do not neglect self-care. Be present, and mindful, as our role requires authentic and mindful leadership.
And there you are. Thank you for what you do. You are amazing!
Written by: DJ Cronin, Leader in Volunteer and Community Engagement, Brisbane, QLD