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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” ( 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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