This week is National Volunteer Week. When I reflect on what volunteering means to me, I’m struck more by what giving back means to others.
After retiring from TELUS in 1996, I began serving with the TELUS Community Ambassadors – a dedicated group of current team members and retirees who volunteer for a variety of causes across the country. Working with the Ambassadors, I’ve had the opportunity to see firsthand the difference that can be made when you come together to give your time to someone who needs a helping hand.
Through the program, I keep busy as the national coordinator for our Comfort Kits, comfort items for the homeless and displaced families and Kits for Kids, backpacks filled with school supplies for less fortunate children.
There is nothing more rewarding than going into a school and having kids say “hey, there are the TELUS ladies” and running up to give you a big hug. I remember recently, one young child who had received a backpack coming up to me and thanking me and promising to return it by the end of the day. When I told him the backpack was his to keep, the joy in his eyes was overwhelming…I had to bite my tongue to hold back my emotion.
It’s a similar feeling when my Ambassador colleagues and myself have gone to the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver to feed the homeless at a shelter – whether it’s a simple thank you, or a smile, it’s amazing the little things you can do that can make such a big difference for others.
I realize how lucky so many of us are, not just because we have money in the bank, can travel or buy things, but because we don’t have to worry about the very basics of life. We don’t have to worry about having enough food on the table, not being able to provide for our children, or being in a position of fear or dread – not knowing if we are going to make it through the day or not.
That’s why I am so passionate about what I do… whether volunteering with the Ambassadors or on the golf committee of the ALS Society of BC and Chimo Community Services. When you show you care by giving back, the people you help feel a little better about themselves, their environment and their current situation, it gives them a little relief from an otherwise difficult time. We all deserve to feel that comfort don’t we?
My advice to others looking to get involved in volunteering? Start small and realize how much not only the people you are helping, but you yourself will get out of the experience. That smile a child gives you when you help them with a school problem, support them on the sports field, or give them a warm jacket, can really brighten your day.