With over 20 years experience in Volunteer Management there is one statement that bugs me the most. I have heard it from stakeholders, volunteer managers, funders, clients, and fellow volunteers alike.

The statement:

“They are volunteering for the wrong reason.”

I usually respond quickly and distinctly with,

“What is the wrong reason and what is the right reason?”

I will state emphatically that I do not believe there is a “WRONG” or a “RIGHT” reason to volunteer. Of course, I am not including those who are looking to abuse, hurt, and/or take advantage. In all my year’s (dear me I am aging myself) I have only seen one case of someone truly having nefarious reasons for volunteering.

I suspect the idea that “life is hard” and to pursue happiness and joy is almost sinful, is one unknown deep-seated ideal that leads one to believe volunteering should be for “heroes” sacrificing health, happiness, and wellness to serve others.

A friend of mine calls it the “Mother Theresa Complex”. Now, we do need to celebrate extraordinary people like Mother Theresa; however, you and I do not need to be Mother Theresa to make a difference in our community.

The facts!

Volunteering is an act that is a gift to others,
but also to your own wellbeing!

“Volunteering offers vital help to people in need, worthwhile causes and the community, but the benefits can be even greater for you, the volunteer. The right match can help you to find friends, connect with the community, learn new skills, and even advance your career. Giving to others can also help protect your mental and physical health. It can reduce stress, combat depression, keep you mentally |stimulated, and provide a sense of purpose.” (1)

Jeanne Segal, Ph.D. Author and Psychologist

With that said, Cochrane is a great place to get involved. We are a community full of opportunity. A huge thank you to parents volunteering in sports and schools. A hurrah to the countless volunteers working with boards and organizations.

However, appreciation must also be sent to those who do random unplanned acts of kindness. These acts could include shopping for a neighbour or shoveling snow for the block (I personally love the neighbour with the snow blower). *Fun Fact: February 14th to 20th is Random Acts of Kindness Week*

“And since true happiness is inseparable from the feeling of giving, it is clear that a social person is much closer to happiness than the isolated person striving for superiority.”

Adler, Individual Psychology