It’s a Saturday morning. I go in the storeroom and grab the cart filled with water and potting soil and bring it out into the next room. Then I get the step ladder and the broom. Thus starts my volunteer job at the library. What does potting soil have to do with the library? Plants. It’s all about the plants. I love plants. My library has a lot of them. Up until a year and a half ago, it was a struggle for the staff to find the time to tend to them.
About that same time, I was looking for a permanent volunteer job. I didn’t have a lot of free time, but I wanted to add more joy to my life. So I checked out the volunteer opportunities in my area, online. Our county library system needed help so I signed up. When I looked at their duties list … working with children, book repair, cleaning, craft prep, tutoring and assisting patrons. I wasn’t sure what I’d get, but I was up for the challenge.
The first thing my coordinator, Pam, asked me was “How do you feel about plants? I really need someone to help with our plants.”
I was beyond thrilled. By now you all know that plants are one of my “things.” Since that day, every Saturday morning you will find me at our library, tending the plants. It’s one of those things that always makes me smile. Even on days where I don’t feel like making the trip, I am always so glad I did.
The library isn’t the only way I’ve volunteered. This past year and a half I have:
- Participated a 4 hour park clean up for our local Keep America Beautiful Group. This one focuses on the river that runs through the center of town. Not only do you get fresh air, but you get to meet new, like minded people, and get serenaded by the rushing water.
- Turned my backyard into a habitat watch for Nature Abounds. I give daily updates on the wildlife activity in my yard to help the national group track migration habits.
- Gotten together with my husband and a neighbor to rebuild our community’s mailbox station.
- Helped a neighbor navigate through a county systems problem.
- Spent time pulling weeds and making cat toys at the local animal shelter.
- Served as an Admin on a FB support group.
But, by far, my biggest joy has been working at the Arboretum. I just went to pull weeds in the garden, but instead I rediscovered my long buried passion to be a docent and give guided tours. I was fortunate enough to get connected with people who were happy to indulge my passion and graciously allow me to craft some special tours for older adults. We have a following now, and in just one short year the Arboretum has become a home and family to me.
Because I’ve gotten so busy, I’ve decided to let go of my library commitment. I’ve been doing it a lot longer than I thought I would. After I broke my foot this winter, I had trouble getting to some of the plants. A cast and a step ladder, don’t quite mix. As well, my Arboretum tours are starting to fill up. I’m sorry to let it go. Those plants are my friends, but that’s part of the joy of volunteering, you can focus the one, the perfect thing, when you find it. It also doesn’t have to be structured, or have a heavy long term commitment. It can be as simple as lending a hand to a neighbor, or watering a plant.
If you decide you want to volunteer and need a few ideas, here are some suggestions to check out:
- VolunteerMatch.Org is one of my favorite ways to find local volunteer opportunities.
- You can also search your city and county websites for locations needing help.
- Talk to your neighbors or join the online Nextdoor Group in your neighborhood.
Sometimes our joy can be found in simple things; little things that take us out of our daily thoughts and transport us to into a happier realm. Volunteering does that for me.