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Rocky View Publishing reporter finds enormous benefits in volunteering

By: Allison Chorney

  |  Posted: Thursday, Jan 09, 2014 12:18 pm

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Iím a pretty lucky person. I have a husband and family that love me, a roof over my head and more than enough food in my chubby belly. So when I heard of Volunteer Airdrieís suggestion that we consider volunteering as a New Yearís resolutions (see story on page 23) I thought Ďheck yeah.í

As a child I didnít grow up with a lot of money, which meant the money we did have went more to needs rather than wants. My parents always managed to scrape by but there were times we needed the assistance of a food bank or church group to get us new clothing.

I remember what it was like to be worried about money everyday, even though I was just a child. But I also remember what it was like to receive a special treat from one of the social agencies my family occasionally relied on. It didnít always feel great knowing you needed help but it did feel great knowing there were people out there who cared. Thatís why I choose to volunteer and give back where I can as an adult.

I know first-hand what volunteering your time can mean to both the person and organization youíre volunteering for, and to yourself. I started off by volunteering my time at a Calgary Corporate Challenge event, which lead to regularly donating blood the following year and finally to mentoring a child.

Let me tell you, the choice to help a child, who needed help just as I did when I was young, was one of the best of my life. I spent a couple of hours with him each week doing simple things like taking my dog for a walk, having water fights, doing a craft or going to a movie. During that time, the relationship I had with my little buddy grew to be something special where he would ask me advice when he liked a girl in his class, made me laugh as he joked about how old I was and became an extended member of my family who I always thought of and wanted the best for.

What I gave was two to three hours each week and maybe a little money to cover the cost of food or a special outing.

What I got back in return was a chance to watch a little guy blossom into a young man, the gift of being a kid again having all sorts of goofy fun, and a huge addition to my heart.

The weekly visits became something I really looked forward to because I was meeting a friend, taking a step back in time to when I was kid and experiencing some of the things I always wanted to as a child but couldnít.

It gave me the chance to share my wisdom and make a connection with a kid that just needed to feel like a kid again.

You generally donít get involved in volunteering to get something back but itís an inevitable reality that giving your time will impact you. Whether itís a warm fuzzy feeling from knowing youíve done some good or having someone or something become and important part of your life, volunteering makes a difference to the individual giving their time.

So why not make a New Yearís resolution thatís worthwhile? Forget about those resolution we promise ourselves we will stick to each year and inevitably fail to do so, and embrace something bigger than yourself. Make 2014 the year that you give back and make your community better than it was before.

I encourage all of you to visit www.volunteerairdire.ca to find the right opportunity for you.


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