I can’t help but inwardly roll my eyes when someone tells me they “don’t have the time to read” – especially when the person saying this watches 2-4 hours of TV every night. I don’t “have time” to read either (heck, I don’t even have the time to write this blog post), but I make the time to do it because I want to.
When someone says he doesn’t have the time to read, I think he really means, “I don’t want to read,” or “I’d prefer to spend my time doing something else.” That’s perfectly fine, but I wish we would stop making excuses. That goes for me, too.
That’s right. I too am guilty of claiming I don’t have the time for something that in reality, I need to make time for: volunteering.
I know I’m not the only one out there who has grand plans of volunteering to help animals, the homeless, children, the elderly, the environment, or whatever cause is closest to your heart. But how often do those “one day, I’ll volunteer” plans ever come to reality? And if you do follow through and volunteer, do you stick with it? According to a 2011 report from the Corporation for National and Community Service, “only 63.5 percent of the volunteers who served in 2009 returned to service again in 2010, which is two percentage points lower than the volunteer retention rate between 2008 and 2009.”
My last two volunteer efforts included helping with a therapeutic horseback riding program, which I stayed with for about six months, and spending two years as a mentor with the Big Brothers Big Sisters organization. I’m not proud to admit that since then, I haven’t volunteered for anything. And while it’s true that my life is busy (right now I’d describe it as “downright hectic”), I know that’s no excuse. In reality, I simply haven’t made the time.
Here at EHS Today, we’ve covered the benefits of volunteering, which range from improved health and happiness to even living longer. While studies show volunteers get the most benefits when they volunteer for selfless reasons, I have evidence of other perks right in my own household: When my husband started volunteering with a well-known nonprofit organization last year, he received a job offer within only a matter of months and now has an entirely new career in a field that interests him. Not too shabby.
So what am I waiting for? What are you waiting for? Let’s all stop saying “one day” and commit ourselves to making the time to volunteer today.