One of my favorite elements of working as CEO of a non-profit organization was the gift of being able to interact with people who care, and who put their time and talent to work to help a cause that resonates with them. I’ve met so many amazing individuals – among them Dorothy who loved assembling birthday packages, Bob who always had a smile on his face while working in the warehouse, Mike who was on call to drive a truck to pick up or deliver product, and Marilyn and Ken who wore their hearts on their sleeves doing anything asked of them to help kids. These are a few of the hundreds of folks I interacted with and I’m so grateful for their service to make our community stronger.
In this new stage of my life, I can now see firsthand the “why” behind volunteering, as I’ve had an opportunity to do so myself. I’ve spent volunteer shifts at Harvest Compassion Centers (Harvest), interacting with staff, guests and other volunteers, and having a great time serving our community. Working in the food pantry at the North Phoenix center, I’ve met guests who are just down on their luck and need a hand-up to keep them moving forward to another day.
I’ve filled a grocery cart with food supplies for Phillip, a war veteran who travels to Harvest on the bus. He told me of how tough it can be to live on his fixed income, and how grateful he is for the assistance he receives from the charity. I helped James, who is living on the streets. As we walked through the aisle, I was able to help him “shop” for items that didn’t need cooking – selecting the bread and frozen lunch meat, instead of the can of chili or the frozen pizza. We even added in a jar of mustard for the sandwiches that will sustain him in the coming days. Maria is struggling to get by with four children at home. The extra food, personal care items and clothing, along with a package of diapers will allow her to use her limited resources to pay the rent this month.
The people I assisted were so grateful for the help Harvest provided to them. Like so many charities I’ve written about, including Treasures 4 Teachers, NourishPHX, Arizona Sunshine Angels and Saving Amy, these essential resource providers could not continue their important work without the loving labor of volunteers to get the job done and make an impact on the lives of many.
I encourage you to take a look at how you are utilizing your gifts of time, talent and treasure. In the charity world, every little bit helps. The smallest donations of dollars, goods and time all added together make our community stronger. As an added bonus for those who choose to lend their helping hands, I can attest that the adage is so true – Volunteering is Good for the Soul!
Read through my blogs to learn of agencies who are filling needs every day. All of the charities I’ve written about can truly use donations of money, product and most importantly, the hearts and energies of caring people
Dan Shufelt, the former CEO of Arizona Helping Hands, has been involved in the charity world as an executive and grant maker for many years.
If you enjoy learning of caring people and the amazing work they devote their energy to advance, be sure to sign up for Dan’s blog (see sign-up form below).