Saturday, July 11, 2009

Something Important

The other day G's sister Terri sent us a link to a site where we found a link to another site that I just have to share. Volunteer Match. You can type in your city, what category of volunteering you are interested in and voila! they show you places you might be helpful.

I used to volunteer with the Special Olympics in my small college town. It started because my Special Education for Elementary Education degree required volunteering. But in the end I became attached to the 4 guys I worked with and for long past the requirement, until I left the town, I went almost every week (consistency is important there).

Dan, Ricky (who I affectionately called Ricky Ticky, misspelled but after the children's story), Chester, and Kenny became another part of my family of sorts. Dan's mother helped run it all. He was a fantastic bowler, as well as being involved in other S.O. activities. He played a mean game of pool, and would save a spot for me, telling others who were in "my" spot to move. Ricky was quiet. Halfway through he got a girlfriend, so it wasn't hard to make him blush. Sweet soul. Chester smoked far more than he should have and drank copious amounts of coffee. I used to tease him that his smoking and caffeine habits made his hands shaky and that that is why he would get the occasional bad bowl. And Kenny was about 6'7" so of course I called him shorty. He was incredibly quiet and social all in one package. After running in to him at the bar once he decided I must go out drinking all the time and harassed me endlessly about it.

These were my guys. I wasn't particularly friendly about sharing. Dan, his mother, and I would occasionally catch dinner together. And I finally gave in during the summer and bowled with them. It was horrible, since I wasn't that great of a bowler anyways, and they were fantastic. Just another thing to rib me about!

I loved my experience and have talked about it enough that G wants to get involved with Special Olympics with me when we go back. Some days I didn't want to go, I wanted a nap in the late afternoon. But going there and realizing these people loved me, quirks, sarcasm and goofiness. I loved cheering them on. I loved getting them to smile when they didn't do so well (because boy could they get moody). I loved having them defend me when another guy would try to claim me for his girlfriend (this generally resolved in Dan telling them to step off, I was his). I loved introducing others to it, and watching them realize quickly that these people were special all right (they could whip you in so many sports), but overall they were just normal people.

This world needs more volunteers. Whether with an organization, or simply helping a neighbor with their yard. It helps someone else, but selfish as it sounds, it also helps you too. You get to grow, and to be grateful for the life you've been given. And that my friends is something you cannot put a price on.

1 comment:

  1. I was really glad to read this post - it brightened my day alittle. I am a big believer in volunteering and giving to people - I just wish I had more time/more ways to do so. I know that even something as simple as donating blood (you don't get paid for it here - but I think you do in the US? Or so my watching of the Simpsons tells me??) and getting the sticker that tells you how many people you have helped through that gives me a warm glow all day (or amybe that's just the loss of blood!)