Monday, June 02, 2014

Motovated Monday - Get Out and Give Back

Happy Monday! As I mentioned in my last Slim & Sassy Sunday post I've decided to take that piece of the blog in a new direction. Today, I give you Motovated Monday! This new feature will help you kick off your week by featuring positive and uplifting messages. It could be a quote, something I heard, a picture that inspired me, or maybe a prompt to get you working towards a healthy balanced life.

Today I want to encourage everyone to think about volunteering. First of all, when you think of the word volunteering or volunteer what comes to mind? Do you think of youth activities in church, helping an elderly neighbor, your Eagle Scout project, or maybe something more ongoing like mentoring or tutoring kids.

UWSL Young Leaders playing tag and other fun games with the students at Guadalupe School.
Next, think about why you've volunteered in the past. Was it because you needed something to boost your resume or college application, did you have to do it to for church or because your parents made you do it, or did you volunteer because you enjoy helping others. There are no right or wrong answers. Just think about it.

Charity walks/runs are a great way to get involved in a specific cause or to support a specific family
Now I want you to think about how you felt when you were volunteering. Even if you did it because you wanted to or because you had to, how did it make you feel. Happy, sad, angry, uplifted, afraid, excited, intimidated, or maybe all of the above...

I know it's a tiny pic, but sometimes volunteering lets you meet famous characters!
For me volunteering has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. My mom is the type who gives back often. If you're sick or in need she's the first one to be there to help. From there I remember volunteering with my friend up at LDS Hospital over the summer. I've now been working managing volunteers for over six years which allowed me to be a part of some amazing experiences. I've seen students go from barely recognizing individual letters to reading simple books, seeing volunteers light up when kids recognize them and give them high fives and hugs, and seeing the relief on a parents face when they receive a box of food or a gift card they can use to purchase the necessities for their family.

Collecting donations of toys and clothes is a great way to support organizations during the holidays.
Now, I know that volunteering can seem intimidating. You're working with kids or adults you've never met. Maybe the place is out of the way or you worry about being able to maintain the commitment the organization requires. I'm here to tell you it's about prioritizing service into your life. For some people it may be a one time donation to a charity event but for others who can make the time you can make a huge difference in the lives of those who need help. I have seen people who are so busy with their family, work, and hobbies still make time to volunteer because they knew it would make a difference. It's up to you to decide how much you're able to give and that amount may vary throughout your life so don't feel bad if what you can give now isn't as much as you'd like to give.

And sometimes volunteering means getting dirty, heavy lifting, and sweating to the max to get things done!
I myself make all the excuses in the world about why it won't work but in the past few months I made time and it was wonderful! I volunteered for a kindergarten class at Roosevelt Elementary Community School that had their teacher leave half way through the year. The kids were behind and falling further behind as the teacher who stepped in did her best to make things work. A handful of volunteers from my office committed to coming once a week for about 1 hour to run activities with the kids. We didn't have to make anything or plan anything in advance. We showed up, hung out with the kids, and went back to work. The most amazing thing happened though as the kids would recognize us and get excited to see us there. We also started to see kids who would never speak up start to know the answers, some of them started to learn to sound out words, and we were always excited when the kids would get bored because they knew the answers.

Thank you letters from the darling kindergartners. I love them all so much!
I can't take credit for their academic gains. I'm sure their amazing teacher and teachers aids did far more than we did but I do hope that the kids on some level realized that someone else out there cared about them and wanted to see them succeed. I hope they will continue to have great volunteers supporting them through school because I know that in their neighborhood they will face challenges just based on their zip code. I see the beauty in my work's promise to "change the odds so all children and their families, regardless of their circumstances, have the same chance to succeed in school in life."

We love our volunteers on Day of Caring and throughout the year!
If you're in the Salt Lake, Summit, or Davis county area I'm asking you to consider sharing your time with a child in need to support our Read. Graduate. Succeed. program. It only takes 1 hour, once a week, and you can make a difference in a students life. The program supports reading in elementary schools and college and career readiness in middle and high school. There are locations all throughout the state of Utah but my work is focused on the three counties where we have schools we support. Please let me know if this is something you would be interested in learning more about. We're working to recruit volunteers for the 2014-15 school year which will start in September. You can leave me a message here on the blog, sign up through the program link above, or contact me at work.

You can even use your work skills at places like JA City where students learn about jobs and managing their checkbook.
Join me in sharing your time and talents to support kids in need. AND... If kids really aren't your passion for whatever reason we have a multitude of other needs in our communities. Everything from working with animals, hunger/homelessness, the environment, and more. My team can help you get connected to the wonderful opportunities that are available to serve!

Every action you take CAN make a difference!
Do you volunteer? Have you volunteered in the past? What are your favorite volunteer opportunities? Are there reasons you don't volunteer? Share your stories and thoughts as I'm always looking to improve the volunteer experience for those I get to work with.

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