Volunteers are very special people. They are the ones that sacrifice their time and resources to make things happen in the community that would not be able to exist without them. They do not get paid, rarely recognized, and allow others to benefit from their hard work. They are the ones who see the value in giving over receiving and are often the catalyst for positive change in the world. I believe, if everyone had the heart of a volunteer, giving a little back to the world around us every day would make our world a much better place. We might even have a much happier society whereby just trying something new through volunteering could develop new people skills, technical skills and overall life skills depending on what the task is. Do you think volunteering and giving can really make that much of a difference? The charitable organization 365 Give was started when a young mom wanted to teach her three year old son to give back to the world every day so that he would grow up to be a healthy, happy, and compassionate adult. Together each day they explored new ways to give back to their community. Soon this practice of giving back to the community became a habit for her son eventually leading him to ask his mom to share what they were doing with friends and family. The mom then blogged about their experience and their audience grew beyond what they could have imagined. Soon they were hearing stories from all over the world of those who were encouraged by this mother and son duo and the good they were doing. Teachers began implementing the practice of giving in their classrooms by baking for local firefighters. Some Businessmen even started buying lunches for the homeless individuals they would encounter on their way to work. Their giving became contagious leading more and more into this practice. But what helps motivate these people to give?
An amazing thing happens when we give. This is often referred to as the “Helper’s High”. The “Helper’s High” is a term given to the process that occurs in the body when our endorphins are activated whereby a euphoric rush is produced. Oxytocin levels increase in the body which can create a sense of love, trust, optimism and a deep connection to the thing that is being done. Serotonin levels also increase in the body which can lead to the feeling of happiness and a sense of calm while also encouraging healing in the body. While all these “feel good” hormones are increasing the stress hormone cortisol decreases by more than 20%. We really can be happier, healthier people by just giving back a little everyday and in whatever creative way you see fit for yourself.
I was fortunate to come from a home and family that valued giving and took the time to volunteer at the local soup kitchen where I grew up. My mom started bringing me there when I was eight years old to peel potatoes for the evening meal that was served to its patrons, and it felt like the potato peeling never ended. We would then help serve the meals in the little Main Street soup kitchen that did not have enough space to seat all the hungry people waiting outside for hours to come in and receive a hot meal. I was very young when I realized there are a lot of people who would not get to eat a meal like this if it were not for loving, caring people to reach out and meet their needs. From then on my family and I would volunteer at the soup kitchen regularly. I would get my mom to take me back as much as possible until I was old enough to go on my own. Through my experience volunteering I was able to build a community with the people I volunteered with regularly. I learned kitchen skills, people skills and built confidence interacting with many different age groups from many different walks of life.
As you might have already suspected, volunteering is very important to me and is very close to my heart, so it is incredibly fulfilling getting the opportunity to be a part of a business that shares the same values as mine. Good n’ Natural has made it their goal over the past year to get involved with South East Helping Hands, donating food and staff time two days each month. There, we help with various tasks sorting and distributing food to those in need here in Steinbach. As a team we have been able to see the hardships people face in our community that we didn't know existed, but help be a part of the solution to the problems happening in our own backyard. We have been able to interact with moms who are trying their best to get food on their tables for their children and give them the best life possible with their limited resources. We have met dads who come pick up food over their break from work so that they can provide for their families. We have met people helping their shut-in neighbours collect groceries when they are unable to go out and do so for themselves. Through their stories we have been able to see that life can take a turn when you least expect it and we as a community need to be there for one another to get through the hard times and help each other get back on our feet. We are a business in the community, but we are working together with South East Helping Hands to empower the community and be the difference we want to see.
As I am writing this piece on volunteering and what that looks like for Good N’ Natural as well as myself, a group of teenage boys walked past my house carrying garbage bags collecting trash in my neighbourhood. Their simple act warms my heart and puts a smile on my face because they have decided to take the time to make their community a better place. And as 365 Give challenges people to make giving a habit, we at Good n’ Natural are challenging you as an individual or business to find ways to volunteer or give back to your community. Not only is giving a good thing for our community, it will benefit your health mentally and physically as well. It may be a week after National Volunteer Week but the heart of a volunteer is always beating and looking for more opportunities to give. To all the hard working givers and volunteers in our community who make so many things possible by impacting lives everyday with their generosity, Good n’ Natural would like to say thank-you and encourage you to continue being the unsung heroes that you are.
-This article is sponsored by Good N Natural in Steinbach -