From Dr. Jane's Notebook

On The Virtues of Volunteering

What would you be... if you could be anything you wanted? What would you do that you'd really like to do? If you could choose any job in the world, where would it be...and what would it be like if work felt like play?

In my practice, I am often confronted by people who are searching for more meaning in their lives. Often they are depressed, bored or unchallenged... frequently they are busy, but not quite satisfied by their endeavors. It is just such a person for whom I am inclined to prescribe volunteer work.

There are many reasons to involve one's self in volunteer work. As one such person who is up to my neck in volunteer projects, in spite of a full-time job and full-time family, I have considered the passionate attraction of volunteering from a number of angles:

With the advent of women returning to the work force and focussing on their careers, a large portion of our volunteer work force has been lost. Unfortunately, instead of acknowledging this loss with regret, the remaining volunteers have often been looked upon as contributing less to society or living the "easy life."

The truth is that our communities are badly in need of volunteer efforts from people who do have the time to contribute, from people who work full-time and can still make the time to contribute, and from people who have not yet stepped forward and offered their assistance to some important cause.

When it comes down to it, we all have some amount of time and energy that we could contribute if we so desire, but we may not recognize the need for our contributions in our community. Yet, if we look closely at our schools, churches or synagogues, hospitals, and other community programs, we see that they greatly need the support of "helping hands." In fact, volunteers provide the backbones of many of the great programs that happen.

Volunteer work is important today. It provides an unbeatable role-model for our children, and a sort of community insurance policy for our own future. I have often imagined that in another life, I might like to run an orphanage or work for the Humane Society. Who knows... the outstretch of my imaginings may someday take place...not as an employee, but self-employed as a volunteer.

ęCopyright 1995, Jane R. Rosen-Grandon. All rights reserved.

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Last Updated November 14, 1998 by Gary M. Grandon, Ph.D.