My volunteering experience began at the Dumb Friends League, and it’s been 8 years and counting, walking dogs and enriching their day for 3-4 hours each Saturday. I rarely miss a shift, unless I’m out of town. I feel such a responsibility to be there for them and know how important it is that the doggies get out and get exercise, snuggles and fresh air.
I keep going back, and there are endless reasons why, but here are just a few:
- I could never get enough of loving, appreciative dogs. They are always so happy to see me!
- There is a sense of purpose and gratification knowing I’m an important fixture in their organization. The DFL could not function without its 1,400 volunteers, and the staff shows their appreciation for that.
- It’s great exercise! I am usually exhausted by the end of my shift (and my step counter is usually off the charts), so that is a definite plus on what could otherwise be a super lazy day for me.
- I’ve made lots of new friends, and get to hang out with people who share a similar adoration for animals and their welfare. We love our work and it is apparent in every person I meet there, and it’s not because we are being paid for it (because we aren’t), but because it enriches our lives in so many other ways.
I’ve reaped so many rewards from this, so I encourage anyone to become a volunteer whenever and wherever you can, and if you say you don’t have the time, I bet you do. I started participating back when we had a houseful of kids (5 of them) and I’ve always worked a full-time job during the week. Yes, it definitely cuts into my weekend, but to me it is so worth it, and my family has been supportive from the get-go.
The Dumb Friends League takes a comprehensive approach to their volunteer staffing. They require a commitment, starting with a minimum of 3 hours per week, for at least 6 months, plus training for each shift that interests you. This is not the place to volunteer if you want to just try it out, or participate once or twice a year, or whenever the mood hits. There are many places you can do this, though, some ideas are:
- Sign-up to work an event around town. There are a multitude of 5k or 10k races around town, or fundraising events in Colorado where you’ll just commit to that one day. Go to https://www.raceplace.com/ find a race you are interested in and click on the event’s website. Often you will see a Volunteer tab, or you can contact the race coordinators to get details.
- Volunteer at your kids’ school (or your grandkids, if that applies to you). It can be so fulfilling to help out the teachers and students, and the kids are always proud to have you there. You are a rockstar for the day!
- It is popular to volunteer at a soup kitchen or homeless shelter during the holidays. This can be very rewarding for a family to do together as an alternative way to appreciate the holidays, although, it may be difficult to find a facility that needs help since this is a very popular activity.
Volunteering can be so rewarding to those who have retired and suddenly have so much time on their hands. It gets them out of the house, combats depression and really gives a person a sense of purpose. On the flip side, I would encourage parents to “start ‘em young”. Get your kids involved in service when they are in their youth, and they will continue as adults. It made me happy that my children attended the Douglas County school system, because part of high school graduation requirements is to complete 20 hours of community service. They weren’t too thrilled with this at the time, as I recall, but it opened their eyes to so many opportunities to help others. So far, I have never heard of anyone who has regretted volunteering!
Get started by clicking this great link to find the best volunteer opportunity for your tastes: http://createthegood.org/ Log in and see what is available. I hope you get inspired to get out there and help others!
Oh, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t say “Don’t shop. ADOPT!”