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The NovelFriends are four writers who met through Wisconsin Romance Writers and initially became bonded by our love of books. That connection has expanded, grown, and deepened into true friendship over the years. We look forward to sharing our experiences with you, so follow the blog and join in the fun - we're always happy to have more NovelFriends!
Tuesday, August 6, 2013
August ponderings by Delia
Let's just talk a little bit about something I've been thinking of lately: the selfishness of giving. That statement may seem contrary, but not really, if you think about it. The reason I've been thinking along these lines is because this week is our family's yearly pilgrimage to Keller's Lake Day Camp. It's a simple camp, held from 9-3:30 for five days the first full week of August. It's for the mentally handicapped - some children, mostly adults. Our family has been volunteering there in various forms for over 10 years with a few years missed in the middle during our time living in Hawaii.
Keller's Lake is one of the highlights of our summer and those days go by much too fast, for both campers and staff. It's not exciting by any worldly point of view, we do arts and crafts, go boating and swimming, toss a line out to maybe catch a fish or two or just have a very haphazard game of basketball. There's no fancy, high-tech games and we don't even have flush toilets (pit toilets in August definitely make you shorten your time in the bathroom as much as possible). What it is is just a good, old-fashioned fun time enjoying the out-of-doors.
Though we'd all like to think we volunteer for the campers, we don't. As much as anyone would like to think differently, people volunteer because it feels good. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that. If you're doing something that makes you feel good while also bringing joy to others, it's a win/win. It doesn't take anything away from your donation if you feel good while doing it. Volunteering isn't about painful self-sacrifice, because, unless there's something mentally wrong with you, people don't bring pain into their lives unless it brings them some sort of benefit. You may hate exercise, but do it because you know it'll make you healthier, you donate time or money to the organization of your choice because it gives you warm fuzzy feelings. Frankly, I enjoy giving time to the day camp, not only because I enjoy myself there and I love spending time with the campers, but I also love to watch the other volunteers. Many of these people aren't very well off, some are well below the poverty line, but they know they can make a difference in someone else's life and they don't need money to do it. And I'm willing to bet that close to 50% of the volunteers are under the age of 25. Isn't that wonderful? You hear so many bad stories about young people causing problems, yet here's a whole group of kids who are giving a week of their summer vacation to help a person in a wheelchair go to the bathroom, or to feed someone who is unable to feed themselves.
So, as much as I love helping the campers, I also love the warm feeling I get inside from helping them and watching others help as well. That enjoyment doesn't take away from what I do, it only enhances it. What I'd like for you to do is to find something you enjoy doing, then see what you can do to help others enjoy it as well. Do you like to read? Why not volunteer some time reading aloud at a nursing home? Like to knit? Volunteer to teach others at your local community center. Do you know someone who's a live-in caregiver for a parent suffering from Alzheimers? Give them the afternoon off by offering to parent-sit free of charge, so they can do something we all take for granted like wandering the mall or simply having a relaxing lunch in a diner with their spouse or best friend. Though you'll feel great for doing these simple things, it won't diminish the value that it gives to others. Everybody wins.