As a young girl, I sat with my mother as she taught Sunday school for preschool-aged children. As her “helper,” I prepared lessons and crafts and snacks for the kids. At the time, I did not comprehend what it was that my mom was doing…giving up her time so that other parents could learn and be inspired uninterrupted for an hour or so. Through high school, I continued to serve in the kids’ ministry at my local church, transitioning from helper to teacher. I loved that time with those kids, who were full of joy and laughter and so receptive to learning.
How I Found my Volunteer Match
I thank my parents for instilling a sense of “other-centeredness” within me. At 15, I decided I needed a job. I was too young to work for pay, so I signed up to volunteer as an aid at our local hospital. My responsibilities varied and included everything from clerical work to helping with their Pet Therapy program. It was during that summer at my local hospital that I knew in my heart I would someday work as a nurse.
During my young adult years, I continued to serve at my local church. When I entered nursing school, I joined a Medical Missions team in Mexico which supplied vision screening and glasses to needy families. Once again I found that my passion for serving converged with my interest in medicine. Shortly after that trip, I began nursing school and went on to complete a master’s degree in the field.
There were times in my life where volunteering became difficult because of life transitions. But my passion for serving others never wavered, and when I could, I found myself answering the call for volunteers whenever my schedule afforded it. Most of those stents involved serving with the kids’ ministry at my local church. But one year, a friend introduced me to an organization I never imagined I would have such a heart for.
It was not my first time serving with the homeless. Throughout my life, I have volunteered in soup kitchens and food banks. I have also collected food and clothing for the homeless. When I showed up to that motel parking lot located just a few minutes from one of the most sought-out tourist destinations, I felt the weight and urgency of a population who are on the brink of being homeless.
I started thinking about the obstacles a person in need faces. How can a man prepare for a job interview without a place to shower and dress? What about the single mom with a child who wants to go to church, but doesn’t “fit the part?” Motel Church is an organization that plants churches in motels that serve the transitional homeless and working poor. These families live in a space that is much too small and often lacking in the basics.
Each week, Motel Churches across Orange County spread love and instill worth and dignity within these communities. A meal, music, and an inspiring message delivered without judgment inspire hope. Church is a gathering of people, and Motel Church is working to reduce the barriers of confining church to a building to welcome anyone who wants to be a part of a church.
The very first time I spent the morning at my local Motel Church, I met a woman who has since become a dear friend of mine. I reminded her of a woman she knew in the past, and we bonded over our passion for helping care for the sick as nurses. That time of food and fellowship reminded me how simple love in action can be.
I never volunteer with the hopes of gaining any tangible reward. And if I’m honest, I find that the intrinsic reward of seeing young kids play and sing during our outdoor church service far outweighs any tangible reward I could be given. But whether you are looking to volunteer your time or simply keep track of the hours you already volunteer, Reward Volunteers is a valuable resource.
Reward Volunteers is a free volunteer management system that helps you track the time you spend volunteering at local non-profit organizations. When you log your time, you are eligible for prizes such as gift cards, gift baskets, and even cash (Volunteer hours must be logged within 7 days of volunteering). The site is a great resources for discovering volunteer organizations in your community. You may even find your particular passion.
Interestingly enough, Reward Volunteers was created by Cabot Creamery to celebrate those people who strengthen their communities and make an impact through volunteering their time. Learn more about Reward Volunteers and sign up for your free account by visiting RewardVolunteers.com.
How to Get Involved with Local Volunteer Organizations
What is your passion? Do you love working with children? Do you have a heart for the homeless? Here are some easy tips for finding your volunteer match and getting involved with your local volunteer organizations.
- Identify where you passion lies
- Think about your skill level and what you might have to offer
- Be realistic about your schedule
- Search for volunteer opportunities
- Sign up and keep your commitment
- Remember that you may need to try out a variety of volunteer organizations in order to find the right match