I had never given much thought to volunteerism or the importance of volunteers, until I recently had a “why moment” with myself questioning my intentions for volunteering in the past and present, in the first place. What’s really in it for me? Is it just to feel good or does the effort I give make a difference to the organization that I volunteer at?
It helps me to process these things with my friends, so I asked them what comes to mind when they hear the word “volunteer.” They just had to share one word that first appears in their head. Their replies included “sharing”, “service”, “outreach”, “love”, and “time”.
In this day and age, money or economic value is the determining factor for many when someone choosing a job. Intrinsically though, human beings are social and thinking beings; we have that imminent desire to work with meaning. We seek jobs that reflect our authentic self, serve humanity and deliver a sense of impact to an audience. Sadly, in the state of our society, we find ourselves wedged into jobs that do not reflect “meaningful work” but would definitely address our basic needs, as Maslow (1943) puts it. In this state alone, we feel alienated, not only from work and ourselves, but from others as well. We are not in our element.
In our attempt to meet the physiological needs, we sometimes get lost in a maze of work, and forget to tend to the part of actualization. You see, we need to realize our potential to lead to self-fulfillment through meaningful work, which in turn makes us better servants of our community. Because really, how can one serve others when you yourself are lost and unsatisfied? And here’s the thing, volunteerism can also help you discover yourself. It’s a two-way street.
One of the most popular hashtags populating social media today is #ConsciousLiving. It’s a call to action for a “mindful lifestyle”, usually pertaining to conscious consumerism revolving on good brands and promoting better consumer goods. But I think this call to action should include a call for volunteerism as well. If you break down "volunteerism" to its simplest form and meaning, it is the act of helping and serving others with one’s free will. It can be the most minuscule act to you, but for the recipient it may make all the difference.
I love this quote by Oprah, which reminds us of discovery and sharing:
“I’ve come to believe that each of us has a personal calling that’s unique as a fingerprint—and that the best way to succeed is to discover what you love and then find a way to offer it to others in the form of service, working hard, and also allowing the energy of the universe lead you.”
In the spawn of social enterprises, you’ll find deeper stories of its founders, whose venture in entrepreneurship was an offspring of self discovery through volunteer work. Fair Anita was born out of a woman’s journey of self-discovery and volunteer efforts. The impact is improving the lives of artisan partners and it becomes a domino effect really. When one woman is empowered, the result trickles to other women in her respective tribe. We live in a world where we see a lot of negativity. Let’s just say volunteerism showcases the positive side of things, most importantly, of being human.
P.S. We will be doing more blog posts on Volunteerism! We will even feature the amazing women who have been volunteering their talents and time to Fair Anita! Stay tuned.