Three Volunteering Vignettes
By Gail Small
Who knows what avenue volunteering might take you? Sarah Glaser volunteered in the kelp forest tank at Birch Aquarium at Scripps. She dove down under to clean the 70,000 gallon kelp forest tank. Her nemeses were the moray eels who tied themselves up in knots around the vacuum connector. Sarah wondered if one of them would bite her as who knows what might happen when volunteering. She graduated to wearing a communication mask to speak to audiences during live shows as she retrieved a bucket of food and fed the fish by hand. Something did happen! It was on her last day as a volunteer diver that an audience member named Cullen asked the question. And I quote, “Will you marry me?” This volunteer had a once in a lifetime experience!
Brian in Australia one day had an idea to be a clown to amuse and help others. He created an outfit with colorful funny-looking clothes. And so, the Fatso Fun Show began. He did silly things to bring laughter to others. He could not find bright oversized shoes and thought that not a problem. So he volunteered bringing cheer with his unusual clown shoes homemade from scraps all connected creatively with bright purple paint. One day while volunteering, Brian described to a lady he just met how he made his clown shoes the best that he could. It was months later, just before the holidays, when to his surprise she arrived with what Brian describes as, “the most magnificent pair of multicolored leather clown shoes.” They were blue, red, yellow and green with big black toes and lined with soft blue leather. This woman who seemed to come out of nowhere said, “They are a gift for you. The reward for me is to see and hear your reaction and know that my shoes are part of what you do.” Brian shares now, “If that is volunteering, it is just the most beautiful thing!”
Volunteering is the gift that keeps on giving. Volunteers are at the heart and soul of opening doors for others and themselves.
A sign said, “PEASE Come-Leminade N Cookees 4 Sail.” Though I was in a hurry that day, I slowed down my car and parked nearby across the street. (I couldn’t resist the site that I saw!) The entrepreneurs behind the table had many assorted missing teeth. Their big shaggy dog was under the table watching as was Grandpa who was puttering in the garage. What a group! The children told me their proud story. “We made the cookies. Five dozen! We only ate seven already and we got to lick the bowl.” I asked the youngest volunteer, “Are you three?” “No!” She corrected me, “Tree and a half.” A cookie rolled on the ground and that was one happy dog! So, I asked them why they had a lemonade stand and they told me the word slowly that grandpa had taught them – v-o-l-u-n-t-e-e-r! “We volunteer to help our big brother. He gets up very early every morning. Someone borrowed his bike he used to deliver the newspapers and never brought it back.” The vision of those cuties stays with me. It could be a poster for volunteering. You are never too young or too old to start!
Volunteers add a special dimension in so many ways. Like interwoven pieces of fabric, the threads bring out color and uniqueness. If there were a recipe for volunteering, the ingredients would help to “bake” experiences and opportunity. Volunteering, enriching the lives of others, is inspiring beyond words and has a lasting impact on us all. Volunteering can be joyful and ~ make a difference!
JOYFUL VOLUNTEERING: Making a Difference is a new book by Gail Small and Ninon de Vere De Rosa. To order send $15+ $5 postage to 2060-D Avenida de Los Arboles #590, Thousand Oaks, CA 91362.
Connect with Gail for speaking engagements and more info at GailSmall.com