Giving Back

Kathy - greenKate Wyland

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Earlier this week I saw a delightful video on Facebook about how Tom Mabe of Prank it FWD gave the Kentucky Humane Society a surprising donation. The workers were astonished when a truck pulled up and he and his helpers unloaded a mass of gifts and equipment. Then he brought in a group of dog groomers to bathe and clip and pretty up the animals so they would look more adoptable. A truly heart-warming story. (And one I’m sure our Gayle Irwin would approve of.)

http://www.pawmygosh.com/prank-it-fwd/

Afterwards I had an interesting reaction. “While what he did was really nice, maybe the time and money would have been better spent helping a homeless shelter.” I mentally slapped my hand at the thought. What right did I have to dictate someone’s generosity? And yet I have often evaluated my giving in the same way and denigrated myself for not doing more.

Like a lot of people I was quite idealistic when I was a young woman and wanted to “save the world.” I even chose my career as a teacher so I could “inspire” the next generation and help the disadvantaged. In my mind the helping professions—teaching, medicine—were on a higher plane than any other occupation. To my frustration, it soon became clear that with my sheltered background, general naivety, and inexperience I wouldn’t be terribly successful in a low-income area. So I had to settle for middle class suburbia. But those kids didn’t need as much “saving” and I felt a failure.

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It wasn’t until after my kids were mostly flown that I had the opportunity to do volunteer work, and I felt the same compulsion to do something “important.” I volunteered for the Red Cross, but there is very little call for their services in our semi-rural area. So little, in fact, that they closed our satellite office. I worked with an adult literacy program but that only lasted a couple of years. I couldn’t seem find a serious group that fit and made me feel I was accomplishing something.

Of course, at the same time I was doing publicity for a local theater group my husband and I belonged to. I served as newsletter editor for three different equestrian groups, usually two at a time, for over ten years. I also was a committee chair for a national organization. But in my mind these were semi-frivolous activities, not real volunteer work. “Real” or not, they took a lot of effort and I burned out about the same time as I got hurt. So I ended up withdrawing for a few years.

riding

I’m ready to take part again, though my leg problems prevent me from doing the one thing I’d really like. I found another literacy group I think I’d enjoy but last year they didn’t really need any more volunteers. Maybe things have changed. After I’ve recovered from my knee surgery and rehabilitation, I’m going to start seriously looking again. This time I’m going to look at frivolous activities too. I don’t have to save the world any more.

How about you? What are your favorite volunteer activities? Do you work with your church or hospital or schools?

 

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Forewarning Cover

FOREWARNING
Healing is her life. Will it be her death?

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Wyoming Cover - 4x6 - #2.

Wyoming Escape
Two dead bodies. One dirty cop.
Is she next?

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Cover - Images - 2.

 Images – A Love Story
She’s learned to hide from life.
Should she hide from him?

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photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/projectdiscovery/14079610150/”>Barrett.Discovery</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;
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19 Responses to Giving Back

  1. Neva Bodin says:

    I can identify with you Kate. I sometimes think I am lucky to be limited in where I can go as my husband needs me around some and I wouldn’t be as great as I think in meeting needs! Like on medical mission trips etc. I retired for a year and went back to nursing as I didn’t feel I was helping others enough in my pursuit of personal interests or volunteering. But I was president of Wyoming Writers last year, was on a women’s clinic board for 6 years, am still on our church prayer committee, membership chair of art guild in town, member of Casper Writers, and occasionally do an art class demo at a local assisted living. All volunteer time. Our local hospice always needs volunteers and is a really worthwhile cause. And frivolous activities aren’t really frivolous, they are necessary for our creative side. Good luck in finding your fit and knowing that you did!

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  2. Doris says:

    The one thing I have found in my years in ‘social’ work, it doesn’t matter what income, what background, every person’s problem is big in their minds. I’ve always tried to honor their feelings. To me saving the world is helping any being, person or animal, who has a problem. They then realize they are not alone and will hopefully ‘pay it forward’ for what I was able to help them with. But that is just my thoughts.

    I loved this post, it makes you think and that is a good thing. Doris

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  3. Wranglers says:

    Congratulations on your volunteering heart. I think different needs pull on different people’s heartstrings. That’s a good thing. I have done a lot of volunteer work, mostly with The Salvation Army, different youth activities, and nursing homes. Nice post. Cher’ley

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  4. Mike Staton says:

    As a weekly newspaper reporter in rural SE North Carolina over the last five years or so, I always tried to help out “help” organizations that needed publicity — a humane society, hospice and even a woman who helped a down-and-out couple on Christmas Eve.

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  5. Nancy Jardine says:

    Kate- I’m feeling very guilty as I write. At this present moment, the only volunteer work that I do is childmind for my own grandchildren. Though in my favour, that takes up a lot of my week. I was always helping out with various groups while I was teaching but not now. Next year I have agreed to help with a few groups though it will take a bit of juggling for me to find time for wtiting as well. I guess that’s like most of us!

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    • katewyland says:

      Taking care of grandchildren definitely qualifies as volunteer work – but lots of fun too, I hope. Family always comes first. Hope you get to do your other things next year too.

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  6. sstamm625 says:

    We can pile expectations on anything we do, can’t we? I do the same thing, Kate, worrying that whatever I volunteer to do isn’t enough. I was a literacy tutor for a while too, but after a couple of years, when other things in my life needed more time, and I felt I wasn’t making a real difference, I left. Then I volunteered with a micro-granting organization, raising money locally and giving it back to people with ideas for community projects. I did that for 7 years, until I’d burned out. Now I volunteer with a group that works with kids on reading and writing skills. It isn’t frivolous, but it doesn’t feel like work, because it’s fun. And that’s really a good thing. If we find something we really like to do, it doesn’t feel like work.

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    • katewyland says:

      That’s the best kind of volunteer job to have – one that’s fun. So great that you found something you enjoy.
      The micro-granting work sounds interesting but I can see how you could burn out with that. I did some grant work too, but wasn’t successful, partly because the “boss” wanted me to apply for inappropriate grants. 😦

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  7. When I graduated from high school my plan was to join the Peace Corps. But with the Vietnam War taking place, when my boyfriend got drafted we decided to get married in case he would be stationed where I could follow. Since he was set to Germany as a mechanic I was able to go and did lots of volunteer work on base. I’ve always volunteered wherever I felt I could make a difference. For years I sewed baby blankets for the preemies in the hospital. I made toys and pillows, blankets, hats, mittens, scarves with my knitting and crocheting abilities. I’ve taken a break while I deal with my health issues, but will be back at it as soon as I can. I feel so good inside when I help someone in need. Great post Kate!

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    • katewyland says:

      I wanted to join the Peace Corps too, but my folks were totally against the idea. How neat that you were able to go to Germany. What kind of volunteer work did you do on base?
      I’m not a crafty person, but what a nice idea to make things for others. Hope you’re better soon and can get back to doing what you love.

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  8. S. J. Brown says:

    You are saving the world one piece at a time. It all adds up. You have and I am sure you will continue to make a difference. If each of us does just a little it makes a big impact.

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  9. Kate, that video is WONDERFUL! As you can probably guess, I volunteer with various animal welfare organizations, including transporting and home visits. I also donate part of my book sale proceeds to them. I also support our local rescue mission. I believe we are given a heart for a specific cause or two and we do well to follow that calling. Best to you as you look for your next adventure of service!

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    • katewyland says:

      I was sure you’d enjoy the video. Looks like they had fun. Hope all the spiffed up ones got adopted. That’s so great that you do so much. I’m sure you’re greatly appreciated.

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