Volunteer Tom McMath sorts through donated goods at the Sources Food Bank in Langley. Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times

McGregor Says: True rewards for volunteers

Volunteering brings its own benefits back to those who undertake the job

Jim McGregor

Special to the Langley Advance Times

The Township of Langley is holding their annual Volunteer Appreciation Banquet this week and representatives from the various organizations will be there. I say representatives, because there is not a building in Langley large enough to hold all of the amazing volunteers in this community.

In the late 1980’s when Rotary International was trying to establish itself in Russia, the Russian premier stated, “We would have to supply box cars upon box cars of gold to equal the benefits volunteers make daily in the West.”

I think comparing a volunteer to gold is a great definition.

I have a book titled Recruiting and Maintaining Volunteers, a ‘how to’ manual for running a successful volunteer organization.

In the section that talks about rewards, they discuss the dinners, the shirts, the caps, the certificates and the publicity and that is all very valid information. These are all good reminders of a great experience. But I have been given even greater rewards.

My longest and strongest friendships began with interactions with volunteer groups. The people I met and the doors that opened for me are rewards indeed.

The young boy struggling at the plate, when he finally connects and sends the ball over the second baseman’s head, as his coach, his smile stays with you forever.

The wide eyed little girl at the breakfast program who says, “Wow, thank-you so much!” when all you’ve done is hand her two pancakes on a paper plate, that sincere thank-you rings in your ears for a long time.

When the lady you are pushing in the wheel chair asks, “Can you stop a minute so I can feel the sun on my face?” She reminds you what should really be important in your day.

Or the single mom with the little baby that looks at thirty tables full of toys and clothes in the Christmas Bureau and starts to cry because Christmas will come after all, she reminds you what Christmas is really about.

When you feel the swell in your chest as the pipes go by in the parade you helped plan or watch two hundred runners leave the starting line in the run you helped organize, or you move a barricade at sunrise and watch millions of dollars’ worth of cars enter your community for the day, it is all a rush, believe me.

You can’t wear these experiences or put them on your walls but any dedicated volunteer will tell you these are the reasons they come back again and again.

It doesn’t matter if your expertise is athletic or academic.

Maybe your skills are technical or personable.

Maybe you will say or do the one thing that will make a difference to someone, that’s what it’s all about.

Where will you find the time? Well, to start, if you turn off the TV, you will find the real reality shows are playing in your community, every day of the week.

At least, that’s what McGregor says.

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