When my children entered elementary school, I began my volunteering career. I started out as a helper with the school’s hot lunch program. I was full of ideas on how to make the program better. I shudder to think of how offensive I might have been to the amazing moms who had devoted so much time to their children and fundraising efforts.
Slowly, I morphed into being a full-time school volunteer. Anything that the teachers and staff needed, I was sure to put my name down for. (I was and am blessed to have a husband who supported me in this by being the sole income provider for many years…. yes, we had to pinch pennies, but the rewards of me being home with my kids in the formative years is something I will never regret. I am so very grateful for this.) I was a trip chaperone, class helper, hot dog preparer, cleaner of Legos and blocks, PAC secretary and eventually PAC President. Along with some friends, we upped the ante on the hot lunch program, adding fruit and veggie options, as well as soup, pasta, burritos, chili and salads. I was part of a committee that raised $25,000 for a new playground.
I have dedicated at least one to two days a week to the school for many years. And here’s a shocker: we have LOADS of fun too! The laughs I have shared with my treasured friends during our volunteering time are countless.
Volunteering is a wonderful thing. I never knew that the rewards of volunteering would be so priceless. Not only did I get to be involved in the school where my children went, I made some pretty amazing friends, got to know all the teachers and staff as friends as well. I know all the kids by name. I feel lucky.
I used to sometimes have bitterness in my heart about the fact that most volunteers are the same people over and over…. and others who should and could volunteer do not. But somehow along the way, I realized that I am receiving countless gifts and blessings by giving my time to others. I reap the benefits. If volunteers made money, why, we’d all be millionaires.
I am terribly sad to think about leaving this community of friends, parents, teachers and children behind. I am a little excited about future endeavors and a return of time to my life. But somehow, I know, that something will come along and tug at my heart strings and I will again become a volunteer.
In June, it will all come to an end. My youngest child will be leaving this school and heading to middle school.
So these next four months will be bittersweet. I am not ready to say goodbye just yet. I hope to live in the moment and revel in the joy that being a volunteer is all about.
To all those who give their time, thank you so much. You are appreciated and loved more than you will ever know.