Yesterday I had the pleasure of volunteering at my local food bank. I haven’t had a lot of volunteer experience, mainly because I get so caught up in my day to day that nothing else ever even crosses my mind. A group of people I know were all going together and invited me to come along and I jumped at the opportunity. Volunteer work has always been something I wanted to do more of. When I was growing up my family didn’t have a lot of money and I distinctly remember several holidays that would have not been holidays had my parents not accepted some sort of charity. I feel like it’s not only good to pay it forward, but knowing that I can help to provide that same feeling of gratitude that I felt growing up is really one of the most satisfying feelings I can think of. I do give to charities whenever I can. When I am shopping and organizations collect money in front of the store, I donate. The pet stores get me with a donation every time I go in there, I just can’t say no. Even today, I went to The Vitamin Shoppe and I donated $5 which will help prevent 20 children from going blind. Amazing. But these donations are really so little. Sure they go to a good cause and they do really help people but I think it’s different to actually give your time and to be able to do something tangible.

There was a rather large group of us there and when they were giving out assignments the site manager asked for 3 “strong volunteers”. This, of course, meant there would be some lifting involved. Naturally, I spoke up because why miss a chance to lift heavy things?? I was at the end of the sort operation and was responsible for sealing boxes of food (around 30lbs/13kg) and carrying them to the appropriate pallet. When a pallet was full and removed I had to then put a new wooden pallet in its place. This went on for about 3 hours. Since there were a lot of people volunteering things were moving pretty quickly and I was definitely kept busy! I didn’t count but I know I carried at least a couple hundred boxes. By the end of the 3 hours I had worked up a good sweat and my Fitbit goal was toast. I was having such a good time that I was actually sad when they ended our shift. This bit of sadness I felt got me thinking…

I just spent 3 hours of my life busting my butt for the betterment of someone else’s life. I would be directly responsible for brightening someone’s day and removing at least one significant stress from their lives. I spent those same three hours engaged in a full body workout. Not only did I get my heart rate up, I worked pretty much every major muscle group and I burned a bunch of calories. After all was said and done, I had a pretty perfect afternoon.

It was about 4 or 5 months ago that I seriously started looking at my life and made the decision that I didn’t like the route in which I was heading. I needed to make a change, not just for me, but for my family. Going into a desk job and sitting in front of a computer for 8 hours a day doing work for some corporate big wigs that I will never meet doesn’t really give me any satisfaction. I appreciate that I have a job and that it allows me to take care of my family; I am very grateful for that, but that doesn’t mean it’s the only way I can be a provider. I decided to take control of my health and fitness and once I was in a better place physically I would branch out and try my hand at passing on that gift to others. I still haven’t quite figured out where I am going to land, and that’s ok, I just needed to pick a direction to work toward. It can be a bit daunting though, thinking about leaving everything you know for something uncertain. Yesterday’s volunteering has really helped me to assuage those fears. Even though it will still be a lot of work I know I am working for the right thing. 3 hours in the office can seem to take forever, but 3 hours of physically demanding work that resulted in a better world, well, that time simply flew by. If I am able to wake up everyday and go to a job that I love while being able to help people change their lives I will really feel like I’m doing something I can be proud of.

I am definitely taking this as a sign that I am doing the right things and I am heading in the right direction. I highly encourage everyone to get out sometime soon and give some of your time to help someone else. Even something small to you can mean so much to so many!


One thought on “Volunteerism and Affirmation

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