by: Dr. David McIntosh, Ball State University
Over the past several months, I have been doing some volunteer conservation work by building wood duck boxes, making fish structures for the lake, and looking into planting aquatic vegetation. By the way, I have learned more about aquatic vegetation then I ever thought I would or would need to learn but this is a topic for another blog. Anyhow, in doing the conservation work, I was able to meet and get to know new people. Mostly, though, I worked with the same folks who typically volunteer. Interestingly, they would make comments like, “I hope everyone who doesn’t help us gets to enjoy this too!” or “It would be nice if others would help because they will benefit from what we are doing.” I found these are common comments from volunteers when I work on community projects. I have always found these comments interesting. I typically just listen and not respond. One thing my grandpa taught me and I can hear him saying it now is, “If you need someone to tell you how great you are doing or want recognized for volunteering, then you are not truly volunteering your time.” I think there is some truth in what he said. I think we should volunteer because we can while others might not be able to. For example, the man who works the nightshift and is working 12 hour days to support his family may not be in a position to volunteer. Or, the women who is taking care of her three children and is working full-time may be exhausted at the end of the day or wants to spend time with her children on the weekends. In short, we should not make assumptions that because someone does not volunteer to help is because they do not want to volunteer to help. Also, timing is important when it comes to volunteering. When our children were younger, we were just too busy. Now that they are older we have more time to volunteer. For me, and I tell my kids this too, volunteer because you want and are able to do so and not because you expect something in return. Now more than ever we need people to volunteer and give their time; however, please remember that because others are not able to volunteer doesn’t mean they don’t want to help or contribute. Overtime, most us give, help, and volunteer at some point in our lives.
About the author:
Dr. David McIntosh is a faculty member at Ball State University.