Volunteering as a Lock Pick

If I could make a toolbox filled with gadgets for breaking barriers I’d start by creating a solar-dependent Motivational battery pack, a clean-energy rocket Propeller, razor sharp Attitude daggers, and a pocket-sized Volunteer lock pick. Yes you did read that right: I believe that every barrier breaker should volunteer.  

For readers who have been reading along you already know that I did a year of service through AmeriCorps after college. But most of my volunteer opportunities happened long before I got my bachelors, did not last nearly as long as a year, and ranged from reading to a kindergartener to being on the cheer squad for a basketball Special Olympics tournament. In each occasion I was always initially completely out of my comfort zone and had very little ‘expert training’ in whatever I was involved with; instead, I consistently depended upon my expectation to have no expectations.
Having no expectations as a volunteer is one of the many ways that a volunteer experience is vastly different from our everyday life experiences. In everyday life many of us have our routines. We wake-up, have an expectation of what clothes to find in our closets, we expect to go from our homes to school or work, we know who to expect in classes or in the office, and when we return home we have an expectation of what to do when the day is over. This is usually only loosely the case when we’re volunteering.

As a fifth grader our class met with a kindergarten reading buddy each week, at that time I was already an older sister and I figured this would just be like reading to my younger brother - something that my parents usually had to force me to do. But it was totally different in every way possible. My reading buddy liked books about animals and not cars, she didn’t yank on my hair, and she also wasn’t around someone in a wheelchair at her own house. For me the weekly meetings weren’t a chore but became a chance to help a younger kid learn to love reading. In high school our class hosted the Special Olympics basketball tournament in our gymnasiums. I wasn’t very big into basketball and had never worked with athletes before, and I had no idea what I could possibly offer to help the event. But when the teams arrived I was taken aback by their camaraderie, the sportsmanship, and enthusiasm each player brought to the game. I wasn’t a volunteer to help each team plot out their game strategy, I was there to be swept up by the competitive spirit and add to the already existing energy. A few years ago I volunteered to walk along side my AmeriCorps group in the Walk for Hunger – a 20 mile walk that weaves through Boston. No, I didn’t walk and yes I used my power wheelchair for almost the entire way (before the battery started dying..) but it was humbling for me to join with thousands who converged in an effort to raise funds and awareness towards anti-poverty and hunger initiatives. I became part of a group of people who pushed on despite the heat because we knew about the millions who need to push on every day under much more dire circumstances.

I could ramble on about other volunteer experiences I have had or rattle off stats about the social good that volunteerism brings. We could sit here and analyze how those volunteer experiences broke barriers of assumptions, or gave us leadership skills. But the thing is none of that would be as great as actually getting out there and volunteering tomorrow, or just starting with something small today. So how 'bout it, how are you going to use your lock pick? 

Posted in , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. RSS feed for this post.

Leave a Reply

Copyright © 2011 Perfectly Imperfecta. Powered by Blogger.