“As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands – one for helping yourself, the other for helping others.” –Audrey Hepburn
Last week on Facebook a memory popped up reminding me that 1 year ago, I “graduated” from Docent Training at our local museum.
Since seeing that memory, I’ve been racking my brain trying to remember my first volunteer experience. Of course, I’m having a hard time – probably due to menopause brain (which by the way, seems to be a contributing factor for many of my “ailments” these days!). I’m sure I must have done some volunteering when I was a Brownie & a Girl Scout – wasn’t that one of the badges? And since I never really got an allowance as a kid, I’m counting chores as volunteer work! And then, there was my six-week gig at the local tv station which was nothing more than a glorified (and fun!!) volunteering opportunity disguised as a college internship (worth 3 credits & a diploma!).
However, my “real” volunteering began when Chris started kindergarten. It was VERY important to me that I be involved with him through every step of his formative years (much to his chagrin) and I was VERY lucky not to have to work at an additional full-time job. Because of this, I volunteered for as many jobs as possible – everything from Art Masterpiece coordinator to Lacrosse Team mom. I helped out at Fall carnivals, school socials & big fundraising Galas. There was almost nothing I didn’t have at least a bit part in. Most importantly for those 13 years, I LOVED EVERY MINUTE! (side note here – I’m now choosing to forget about the petty politics & the petty people that went along with those jobs 😞)
Once he graduated from high school, I knew I needed to find something else – something that would give me just as much satisfaction. When I still lived in Carlsbad, I volunteered with the international “Coastal Clean-up Day” which strives to clean up our coasts. That was definitely a good fit for me as I voluntarily clean up beaches wherever we go. My friends & family used to tell me to “just leave it” but in clear conscience, there was just no way I could/can.
When I moved up to Long Beach, I wasn’t working & didn’t have a lot of nearby friends. Chris was still in college & Jerome was working long hours at his new job. I, too, looked for a job at first but nothing panned out (read: jobs for women over 50 are few & far between). I wanted/needed to get involved with something that would add some value to my life. Enter The Long Beach Museum of Art. I can’t tell you how fortunate I feel to have this gorgeous little museum walking distance from my house.
I’ve always loved art & going to museums so becoming a Docent seemed like a great fit. And so far, it has been. I’ve met a whole new group of lovely people – many I now call friends. I’ve learned a lot about artists, both new & established. I’ve even dabbled with my creative side by drawing, painting & making pottery.
I did a little research on the benefits of volunteering. Here are a few:
- volunteering improves psychological & physical health
- volunteers can build social networks that support them during times of stress
- volunteering fills a gap in your personal life & adds intellectual stimulation & growth
- volunteering, particularly by older adults(us), can boost metabolism & reduce blood pressure(YES!)
- volunteering appears to help with self-esteem & confidence
As with most things in life, there are also some negatives to volunteering (petty politics & petty people!), but I’m sure you can figure those out on your own. The most important thing is to find something you really love & to remember “no one can do everything but everyone can do something”.
Do you volunteer? Leave me a message.
Thanks for reading!