Thankful Nov. Day 11: Thankful for the Opportunity to Volunteer

credit: J. Denevan(me)/ a replica of the Vietnam Memorial that stopped in Laughlin for Veteran's Day weekend

credit: J. Denevan(me)/ a replica of the Vietnam Memorial that stopped in Laughlin for Veteran’s Day weekend. It’s just a replica, but it’s still so amazing/sobering to see so many names like that. It’s definitely an experience.

The other day I wrote about perspective. I touched on the fact that I volunteer. Something I forgot to mention right at that moment is that volunteering in of itself provides a special kind of perspective. This goes for volunteering with any group at any time. That’s part of why I chose to try not to fret about the $12 I now have to pay just TO volunteer. What I will get out of it will be much greater than any $12.

I suppose it’s silly to be grateful for the opportunity to volunteer, but it’s like a friend of mine put in his post recently, it’s important to pause, take a moment to see the beauty in life that surrounds us. Hell, even Ferris Bueller said: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” I’m biased on the matter, but I happen to agree with Ferris. I also find it amazing how taking a few moments every day to be thankful for even the little things we have in this life really makes me feel better about everything. It forces me to be more positive, which in turn means I’ll have a good day, a good week, etc.

I’m focusing on volunteering today because similar to my post the other day, it really gives me perspective. If I hadn’t gone to Detroit all those years ago and worked with the inner-city children, I never would have realized how grateful I am to have lived in a place where I could be a kid for as long as possible. I never would have learned to be grateful for all that those kids gave to me. I went there to help them, but I think they helped me more. I was so amazed to see those kids be so resilient to circumstances that others may not handle so well. They were grateful for things that most of us take for granted and that was good to be reminded to not overlook the little things.

I’m very grateful for my opportunity to volunteer through this group right now that gives me a chance to say “thanks” to the men and women who serve our country. I write letters, I adopted a soldier and now I’ll also be providing some help specifically to medics/medic units overseas. What an honor it is to have the privilege to say thanks to those folks. Most of take the little luxuries like a hot meal for granted. Participating in this group reminds me of how fortunate I really am.

We often overlook the value of a piece of mail that isn’t a bill. So many of our deployed military men and women don’t get mail. How sad is it to go day by day and not hear your name during mail call, not hearing from someone, anyone. I don’t get many responses but when I do, I always hear about how grateful these brave guys and gals are just to hear some news from home, to know that someone is thinking of them, that they are NOT forgotten. It’s such a little thing and yet it’s so huge. We here at home don’t like to feel forgotten, so it stands to reason they feel the same. This is particularly true as time has marched on, the war has “dwindled” if you will (it hasn’t really but the perception is that it has), and people at home are “forgetting” that there are still men and women dying, getting injured in this tough fight. How can that be forgotten?

I’m grateful for volunteering because the value of giving time to another person is immeasurable. It’s absolutely priceless. The person on the receiving end, hopefully, gains something that can’t be lost, sold, taken away. A memory is created. Sometimes, there’s a bond that’s forged that can’t be undone. Money can be lost, misused. Money can lose it’s value over time. Memories can not. Bonds can not. This goes both ways. The volunteer can often gain as much as those being volunteered for and that’s pretty amazing. The interaction between two people is a beautiful thing.

Finally, because it is Nov. 11, Veterans’ Day, I want to take a moment to thank all the men and women of the armed forces for their service, then and now. Thank you for doing what others cannot or do not want to do. Thank you for putting your lives on the line for the rest of us. Thank you for sacrificing your precious time with your families to protect us, our rights and for standing up for what you believe in wholeheartedly. Thank you for sacrificing things like hot meals, even running water and other “luxuries” so that we, here at home, may sleep peacefully at night. Thank you for being willing to carry a very heavy burden that the rest of us will never fully understand. What you all do means more than words will ever fully express.

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2 responses to “Thankful Nov. Day 11: Thankful for the Opportunity to Volunteer

  1. I’ll tell ya what…spending a week in Detroit with innercity kids will change just about anyone’s life…it is pretty crazy down there. I’ve been to some of the most poverty stricken places in latin America….and I swear that I usually feel safer there than in parts of Detroit.

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