Right now I volunteer at the CHI Print Center and at Lakeside Hospital in Omaha, Nebraska. I want to talk to you about my experiences and times of being a volunteer.
When I go to the CHI Print Center I have a name badge and the book on the table at the front door is where I go and I check in there in the book. I don’t know ahead of the time what I will be doing for work there on the day I come but I always ready to do anything and everything they need.
They The Staff show me how and demonstrate what they want me to do that day that I come for volunteering. I want to tell you some of the things I do is to put labels on envelopes and after I label them I fold papers and put them in the envelopes. Also I put whole binders together with the inside and outside and front and the back. I can’t remember what it is called but there is a huge red rubber band and I measure it out with a Ruler and I cut it into pieces and fold it into a square for Physical Therapy Patients to use it.
I like to be in the Break Room during lunch break and I try to do it for a half an hour. If I need to warm something up in the microwave they show me how to use the microwave because all microwaves can be different. A nice worker helped to show me how to use it and it made me feel happy and thankful. I try to do a half an hour lunch break but sometimes I do it for one hour and then go back to work.
I also volunteer at Lakeside Hospital. The first thing I do is check in on the computer with my badge. I put my purse away in the office before I go to work. I used to work in the cafeteria and help with cleaning. Sometimes I clean tables and sometimes windows too when they showed me how to do the windows. I cleaned and washed the chairs and push them in and throw away things people leave on the tables and put the trays above the trashcan or on the tray return. I am taking a break from the cleaning part for a while because it got overwhelming if I was by myself and the kitchen closed and I couldn’t find anyone in the kitchen to help me.
For a while I tried learning how to deliver the mail in the hospital and sort it in alphabetical order in different Departments on different Floors. My Mom one other time come with me to see how I was doing and she noticed it was getting confusing because the hospital is so big. The person training me was a volunteer too and we had trouble to know where the mail goes. One time my Boss help me to go outside when they were doing testing with sirens for fires. It made me scared. I am taking a break from the mailroom now.
My most favorite thing to do at Lakeside Hospital is to spend 1 hour performing on the piano in the Lobby. I love to play for the people who are there if they don’t feel good or if they have family who is in the hospital and they are visiting and can be happy by the beautiful piano music.
It makes my day when the people come up to me and say Oh Wow That Sounds So Beautiful! And they tell me they love the way I play and I say thank you to them. It makes me feel greatful when people enjoy my music.
I also discover one of my passions because of volunteering and that is to work in an office setting someday. I like and love the things that I been doing to help them out and to put packets and papers together and help with organization and things like that. I like when everything is clean and in place. It is one of my dreams of mine and goal for me to work in a office someday.
I had to take a break after my Grandpa pass away because it was hard for me to go into a hospital again. It was kind of hard to go back to it and try not to think about My Grandpa but just think about what I doing there. I try not to read the things on the papers at CHI Print Center because it makes me to think about My Grandpa and it starts to make me sad. I am working through the hard times and it will take some time.
In 1998 I did volunteer also at the VNA Visiting Nurses Association where I been doing office things for them. I do the same things at CHI Print Center that I did at the VNA and that is when I felt in love with the Office Setting. I love to do office work to help people out. The Staff treat me like a team and I was honored with a certificate and it make me feel the most special. I still have the Certificate and a picture with the ladies who are my friends I made at the VNA.
I like and love to volunteer. I volunteer for my whole life and keep doing it even when sometimes I have to take a break or step away a little bit and then come back to it. It helps people out who need extra hands and it makes my day too when I go especially when the Staff is welcomes me with open arms to help them. I will never forget my time doing volunteering.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… I have no idea what type of person I would be had I not grown up with an older sister who has Down syndrome. It is an existence that I do not know, and I couldn’t be more thankful to be a part of the story of our family.
That said, volunteering has been a part of my life from the beginning. Helping sell merchandise at Special Olympic events, mentoring a young girl with Down Syndrome, teaching Sunday School, ANYTHING involving children. It’s all a huge part of my past and will always be how I spend some of my hours every week. But why?
It matters. However big…however small. It matters.
One of my forever favorite quotes was spoken by none other than Mother Teresa, “Do small things with great love.” Why? Because these things matter. We all have no idea how big of a different these small things, when acted out with great love, have on the people and places around us.
For years, I have heard others say, “I wish I had the time to get involved,” or, “I need to find somewhere to volunteer,” or, “I should really do that with you.” People want to help out. People want to contribute to their community. But people (including myself) are busy.
Here’s the great news…volunteering wears many different masks. People often have the impression that it will take a lot of time and effort to start volunteering. That doesn’t have to be the case. Let’s all start now.
I’ve found it’s more about being more aware of our surroundings…
When we notice someone next to us at a restaurant who looks as though they are in a rough spot…anonymously volunteer to pay for their meal. When we have a friend who is going on a vacation…volunteer to watch their pet while they’re gone. At the coffee shop, when we see a sign for an upcoming walk, or event, or fundraiser, just.sign.up. When we see someone parked at an expired meter, plug it. Become a Big Brother or a Big Sister. Small things…great love. Transformation will not only happen in our community, but within our hearts and our actions.
One truth I am certain of is that there is always someone else who can use a hand from each of our unique and varied skills. Finding the right fit for ourselves is where the challenge lies, as Leah noted above. At the hospital, working in the kitchen or in the mailroom was not the right fit for her.
Then she sat down at the piano.
For those looking to start volunteering, there is one important question at hand here:
What brings you so much joy that money becomes a non-issue?
For Leah, playing the piano is one of the answers to that question. Now comes the creative question:
Where is there a need for this passion?
Who would have ever realized that a hospital lobby would be the answer for Leah? But it is. And it truly makes both Leah’s day and the day of those around her when she plays.
Personally, being around children floods my heart with joy. The task at hand? I could care less. So long as I’m sitting with them, being a complete goof. Nothing has to make sense. Everything around me goes fuzzy and I’m lost in whatever world the child’s imagination has painted for us. It brings me more joy than any paycheck could.
As always, Leah uncovered a truth about volunteering in her reflection this week…
“I also discover one of my passions because of volunteering and that is to work in an office setting someday.”
Finding our passions. Hasn’t that been a goal of ours since preschool? I really believe that in volunteering, we often find out our true passions. The things we do when money is out of the equation. How we really want to spend our time. And once these passions are discovered, they have the ability to pave, or even alter our career path in the best, most rewarding ways.
Through volunteering, the accountant may realize he wants to become a youth counselor. The firefighter, a public speaker. The doctor, a small business owner. The beauty in it is that it’s never too late to pursue these passions. And it all starts by doing small things with great love.
Here’s to turning our minds Upside Down.