On Volunteering

For about five months, nearly every Monday, I got up in the morning and went to volunteer with a non-profit that helps Senior Citizens.

I started doing this a few months in to my under employment because though I was busy with many things, I realized I did have available time and why not give that time to others? Though I have to admit I was reluctant at first to volunteer. It was a time commitment and I worried about giving away my time.

Eventually, I talked myself into it. I used a website called VolunteerMatch to help me find someplace to give my time. The site was so helpful and gave me so many options to choose from. And locations to volunteer that were close to home, so I didn’t have to also give away time for commuting to my volunteering location.

I became a “Fraud Fighter” at WISE & Healthy Aging. As a volunteer I showed up for 3 hours a week and made phone calls to senior citizens around the country about the latest scams. The 3 hours could be rough. In 3 hours I would generally make 90-100 calls. And if a person answered, I tried to get them to listen to my warnings about the latest scams or if their answering machine answered I gave a more general warning about frauds and scams. By the third hour my throat would start feeling a little sore. And often people did not want to listen to me because they assumed I was selling something or wanted them to donate money. Even after I finished my speech on the latest scam and said “Have a nice day” the person one the other end would say “I am not interested!” Which was a little disheartening to know they hadn’t listened to word I said.

So why did I go back week after week? Because for every five people who either hung up on me or didn’t listen at all, there was one person who was so grateful for the information I provided that it made my heart feel warm inside. And it was those people I thought about as I got ready to head to the call center. And it was those people I reminded myself of when someone hung up on me. I reminded myself that the next person I called might really need this information and it would save them from losing money.

When I finished my 3 hours each week, I left the call center feeling lighter. As if by doing something good, I was lightening my own burdens. That may sound like a selfish reason to volunteer but helping other people does make you feel good about yourself. I don’t think I am akin to Mother Teresa but even the little I did improved my mood most days. I felt like the positive energy I was putting out was coming back to me.

I was sad this last Monday because it was my final time volunteering at the Fraud Center as I am returning to having an office job. But I know that once I am used to the load of my new job, I would like to find another volunteer opportunity for myself. Because I want to help others and by helping others, I help myself.

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