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Why I Volunteer

July 27, 2011

by Erin K., Sexual Violence Center Volunteer

Everywhere I turn, I hear messages asking me to give my time and money to help others who are in need. The government says that “ordinary people can achieve extraordinary things” (www.serve.gov) when they come together to serve. My faith institution created an initiative for members to volunteer just four hours of their summer to the less fortunate.

When I hear about these opportunities, though, I sometimes feel that I don’t want to spend the fleeting hours of my life helping others. If given the choice between relaxing with friends poolside wearing SPF 80, or working alongside people I don’t know for the benefit of people I don’t know, I will most likely choose the former. Or I will choose to serve, but with a heavy, arrogant heart.

And yet, even with the selfishness that I find in my soul, I do spend time each week as a volunteer at the Sexual Violence Center (SVC) in Minneapolis. I don’t have a clear answer as to why I spend this time meeting with sexual assault victims and supporting the paid staff as best as I can. To say I want to “help others” sounds pat and tired. I could say that I am bringing a semblance of peace to those who are conflicted, I am a sounding board for those who need a listener, or I am working for a good cause.

However, I think I volunteer because I have a deep, penetrating belief that I am just a small piece of this world, but I have been given talents that allow me to make a small impact in another person’s life and in my community. I believe my life has a purpose and this purpose is to show love to others by coming alongside anyone who may need assistance in his or her journey of life.

I also know that I am just an ordinary (albeit, quirky) person. But, it doesn’t take an overly special, overly talented person to volunteer. The only requirement of volunteering is knowing that one person – one regular person – can make a small difference in a larger picture. That is, if an individual is willing to take a risk to change the world and be personally changed as a result of the work being done.

Click here to find out about volunteer opportunities at the Sexual Violence Center!

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