In an earlier blog post where I introduced myself, I shared that I had learned to serve at a young age. The exact age cannot be determined because service was instilled in me from birth. I’m sure I accompanied my family as a baby and it’s questionable how much I helped as a toddler, but I was there. As children, we didn’t choose if we wanted to help. My siblings and I learned to embrace service and love it as it became part of who we are. In fact, all of us continue to serve as adults. It’s just what we did in our family. It is part of my family’s heritage.
Growing up with a volunteer fire chief as a dad gives you many opportunities to serve. I can’t count the number of times I swept the floor of the fire station. I’ve cleaned fire trucks, toilets, windows, and more. I restocked soda in the fridge. I’ve peeled hundreds of potatoes and carrots and diced onions for dinners to thank the crew for their hard work.
My family didn’t just volunteer with the fire station. We took meals to neighbors, laid sod for the new city park, and participated in numerous service projects through our church. We flipped hamburgers and served customers at our city baseball games. We picked and snapped beans for our elderly neighbor.
Volunteering wasn’t something that “we made time for.” It was just part of our daily life. Volunteering isn’t always glamorous. It’s often just getting the job done.
Besides feeling good about what you accomplish, there are some really cool benefits that come from learning to serve:
· Build a sense of comraderie with those you serve with. Friendships develop and your social network expands.
· Learn great job skills, such as the value of following-through with your commitments.
· Discover what you are passionate about.
· Become more caring and generous.
· Spend time with family while helping others around you.
· Develop a sense of self-worth and satisfaction.
The easiest way to get your children involved in service is by having them accompany you when you serve. Children learn best by the examples around them. If your children sees you volunteering, they are more willing to volunteer.
New to this way of life? Welcome! Find simple ways to incorporate service in your daily life. Find ways to involve your children with age-appropriate tasks. Here are some simple things you can do today:
· Write a note to someone. Maybe your child can draw a picture, add a few words, write their own letter, seal the envelope, put the stamp on, or drop it in the mailbox.
· Mow a neighbor’s lawn. Your child can pick up sticks, rocks or other objects, rake the grass, or even mow the lawn.
· Make soup for someone who is sick. Your child can pull the veggies out of the refrigerator, chop them up, measure out seasonings, carry the container of soup, or knock on the door when delivering the soup.
Ready for more and looking for ideas? Find something you are interested in and find a way to volunteer to contribute. Are you really good at something? Is there an agency who could benefit from your talents? Just need some ideas? Call 2-1-1 and let them know you want to volunteer in your community! Do you live in Utah County? Search United Way of Utah County’s volunteer database. There’s even a way to search for family-friendly volunteer opportunities.
I can’t imagine a life without service. It’s part of who I am. It’s ingrained into my very soul. It’s a tradition my husband and I have full-heartedly embraced.