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LEADS FORUM: Help others and help yourself

Commentary • Apr 14, 2010 at 3:29 PM

Heather Walters, real estate clerk, Erie County Auditor's office

Member, Leadership Erie County Class of 2010

Who can be a volunteer? You can!

What does it mean to volunteer? It's the practice of people working on behalf of others or a particular cause without payment for their time or services. It's generally considered an altruistic activity, intended to promote good or improve the human quality of life. Volunteers come in the form of young, old, married, single, families, working and unemployed people. It's a rewarding experience that leaves you wanting to do more.

Volunteering is an act we need to teach our children about, not simply doing it. We need to start early and educate them about the historical and current role of community involvement and how it affects lives. It provides a connection to something much larger than ourselves and helps develop a sense of selflessness. There are many reasons people choose to volunteer. Some do it for their own skill development, to meet people, to make contacts for possible employment or just to have fun doing something they enjoy. Others want to share their time and talents in an area in which they are specifically trained. A common thread among volunteers is their willingness to give of themselves.

As a member of Leadership Erie County's class of 2010, I have been introduced to countless organizations in the surrounding communities that provide wonderful services and assistance to those in need. It has been a truly humbling experience and confirmation of my desire to volunteer.

By participating in LEC I have encountered many volunteer opportunities in groups such as: Crossroads Homeless Shelter, Goodwill Industries, The Volunteer Center, Salvation Army, Victory Kitchen, Kinship, CASA, Michael's House, Big Brothers and Big Sisters, Boys and Girls Club of Erie County, Sandusky State Theatre, The Juvenile Justice Center, United Way of Erie County and many faith-based organizations. In all these different settings, you too can find a way to give back through volunteering.

Many find it hard to juggle their schedule and cannot imagine squeezing another commitment in.

The gift of time is priceless. But please consider sharing some of your precious gift with those around you.

We can all find reasons to not volunteer our time, but here are a few reasons you should:

-- You might need help yourself someday

-- You may just learn something new

-- It's a great way to make new friends

-- Some inspiring quotes I'd like to leave you with:

-- "We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give" -- Winston Churchill

-- "One is not born into the world to do everything but to do something" -- Unknown

-- "All that we send into the lives of others comes back into our own" -- Unknown

Volunteer week is April 18-24

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