I believe that volunteering and donating provides wellness benefits to the giver and the recipient. Volunteering often gives us knowledge, new skills, inspiration, and understanding. Such activities make us feel happy, give us purpose, and take our minds off our problems.
It is important to find causes that fill our souls. We must take control of our charitable choices and manage them well. Like the careers we choose, volunteer projects should allow us to come home sometimes tired but always inspired. We should like the task that we are volunteering to do. Our joy will spill over into the entire organization, perhaps drawing others to the cause.
I wish I could help every group that tries to improve the world. I often feel terrible when I have to say no. Lately, I repeat these words to myself: If everyone did something, no one would need to do everything. I assure myself that every little bit helps and that the gift of time is beneficial too.
My husband and I have our decades-long passion projects, plus we contribute in smaller ways to several worthy causes. We learn as much as we can about other needs, and when new causes catch our attention, we carefully assess our skills, time, and budget before expanding our interests.
Donors sometimes need to create a mental start and finish line. One grandmother I know began volunteering in kindergarten classes and decided to volunteer until her first kindergarten class graduated Grade 8. Once she set a goal, she stayed with it because she was personally involved.
I wanted to feel more connected to the Saskatoon Public School Foundation’s Equal Start Program. The project involves a five-year journey for each child, starting in preschool and continuing through Grade 3. If children can read at grade level by Grade 3, statistics show a much higher likelihood of graduating Grade 12. The benefits for our society are limitless.
I could have donated a single amount, and the organization would have been appreciative. Instead, I asked the organization how much it costs to support one child in the program for five years. Apparently, that cost is around $5,000. To make it fun for me, I committed $1000 per year for five years.
Immediately, I visualized a group of grandmothers, each supporting one child, gathering to support a classroom of children. The grandmothers would be invited to hear the children read at the end of their Grade 3 year. I could imagine us all going for coffee afterward and discussing the possibility of supporting another wave of children. Wouldn’t it be marvellous to know our contribution helped these children graduate Grade 12 and become good citizens? Of course, the paperwork involved would be too much, and there are privacy laws to consider, so I created pretend Emily.
When my pretend Emily graduates from Grade 12, I will celebrate. She will graduate in June of 2034 when I am 85, and I will be proud of her. I renew my contribution every April, and this year my pretend Emily is going into kindergarten. I hope she knows how much I care about her.
If you want to help build a pretend classroom with me, contact Early Learning Equal Start. Don’t feel guilty if you have already met your contribution capacity for the year. I’m just sharing my enthusiasm for this project. We all need to share information about the causes dear to our hearts. How else can we discover ways to help our community thrive?
Someone once said, “Helping one person might not change the whole world, but it could change the world for one person.”