April is a month to raise awareness and honor many aspects of society. That includes important art and culture subjects (like National Poetry Month), serious subjects (National Child Abuse Prevention Month) but also some obscure and silly things, like Straw Hat Month. Add volunteers to the list too.
In school, volunteering was required for community service hours in order to graduate. I remember packaging gifts for kids, cleaning up beaches, assembling food packages for hungry families.
After college, I remember volunteering my time to help adult English learners learn how to read and speak more fluently at my local library. I admit, when I was younger I volunteered to get x-amount of hours in and to tick off those boxes. So I would reluctantly wake up early on the weekend or force myself to keep pushing after work, just so I could reach those numbers.
As a busy teen, I thought it was a lot to ask. But in retrospect, I see that those hours where I did have to wake up early or push through low energy levels to package gifts and food, or to assist people learning a new language, were well worth it. I was never wiped out after volunteering. I felt good being productive during the process of helping members of my community. I felt good afterward knowing that I helped someone out there.
That’s the thing with volunteering, it doesn’t really matter why you’re doing it—be it checking off a box and gaining mandatory hours, or because you are compelled to do so. Some people do it for the delayed gratification and feel-good endorphins. Others use it to develop useful skills.
In the Weekly this week, we’ve got a list of local places to lend a hand this month (or whenever!) for whatever reason compels you to do so. Because no matter why you’re volunteering, you’re one part in a big system that’s helping improve the lives of others. Happy National Volunteer Month.
-Marielle Argueza, staff writer, email@example.com