Volunteering is a fulfilling way to give something back to your community and/or the world. Being a volunteer is a rewarding experience, but the only volunteer for activities and events where you want to spend time on. Truthfully, I realized I really should do more volunteer work. Where would I volunteer? I always ask myself of the organizations and groups that interest me the most, and that is probably where I would spend my time.
High School Volunteer Experience
In high school, I participated in a group called Pioneer Girls at the local community church. I did not attend this church with my family, but I loved the opportunity to go to the youth group with my close friend. Those Wednesdays were so much fun because we rode the bus to her house, and hung out eating snacks and watching TV before her dad took us over to the church. In this youth group, we participated in the usual Bible studies, but we also made items for people in the community. We each crocheted a baby blanket for low-income families that gave birth to their first child at the local hospital. This was the first blanket I ever crocheted, and I remember my mom helping me to learn how to get the stitches just right.
Once a month we went to visit senior citizens at the hospital, which was a very rewarding experience. I truly enjoyed hearing their stories about growing up in the Great Depression, and I am glad I could bring a bit of company to these people. We also made items for them on special holidays, which was nice since many of them missed their loved ones being confined to the hospital. The most memorable experience I had there was trying to speak to a French woman, but my speaking skills were barely up to par at that time.
Singing carols for the senior citizen patients was also a heartwarming experience, and I remember how one lady offered us chocolate covered cherries, which are one of my favorites. The other girls pretended to like the chocolates so as they would not hurt the woman's feelings, so I ended up getting very sugared out because I ate about ten of these chocolates. I only went to this youth group for a few months out of my tenth-grade year, but I will always treasure the volunteer experiences that I had there.
Helping People World Round
Of my own volition, I have always believed in helping people world around when I can. Several of my pen pals from Africa truly touched my heart when I was in high school. I belonged to an international pen pal association where you would receive a list of people to write to, and your name would also be on a list sent out to other people. Several of my African pen pals truly touched my heart because of the ordeals they had to go through. If you are interested in having a pen pal from another country, I did write a hub on this topic awhile back. I sent a couple of my pen pals calculators because their parents could not afford to buy these. This may seem like a mundane thing to someone living in a western country where these can be purchased very cheaply, but for a couple of people I knew it was a critical tool they needed at school. My pen pal from Sierra Leone had watched her mom gunned down and lamented that the one joy in her life would be to have a calculator so she could do well in her classes. Some people may think I was naive, or she was just using me so she did not have to pay for it, but I definitely believe her story because no one would want to make up something like that.
When I could help a pen pal or anyone I was never above doing that. I believe if you have five extra dollars it does not hurt to donate it now and then. Just think of all the resources we have living in an industrialized nation, even in this dismal economy, and how many people are suffering all around the world. I am not saying go out and donate if you do not want to, but to me giving to people less fortunate than me is not a burden, and I actually feel good about myself when I can help someone.
The Conversation Partners
During college, I had a few volunteer experiences in my academic honor societies. We made gift baskets for children at the Ronald McDonald House. However, the most extensive volunteer experience I had was being a conversation partner with international students over at the extension center. Basically, I would hang out with them in the lounge and have conversations with them to help them with their English language skills. There were several women from Japan and one from Taiwan that I remember fondly. I also met some really nice men from Thailand, and everyone offered to show me around their country if I ever traveled to see any of them. Over the years I have lost contact with all these wonderful people, but I truly enjoyed being able to talk with them when I did.
One of the things I have enjoyed about Hubpages and other sites is being able to meet people from around the world. It is not exactly volunteer experience here, but I have helped a few friends with their English language skills by chatting with them online. When I think about volunteer experience I realize I should get out in the community and do more of it.