A volunteering story by: Jennifer Rachel Hay
Jim Pickett has been a volunteer for the American Diabetes Association for more than twenty years. During that time he has performed many different tasks. Jim has planned layouts and routes, he has delivered supplies to rest stops, and he has also helped with registration of other volunteers and participants. Among his many other tasks throughout the years he tells me that he has performed a wide variety of things, such as ticket sales, cash handling, posting signs, answering phones, delivering water, coffee, food and snacks to other participants, picking up trash, cleaning restrooms, sweeping, mopping, setting up tables, tearing down tables and miscellaneous type clean up. Jim states emphatically and with a large smile, that he has “done all of it, whatever needed to be done I did it happily”. Specifically Jim recalled helping plan the road ride for the American Diabetes Association’s Bicycle Tour de Cure on several occasions throughout the past 20 plus years of his work with the organization.
Jim has also volunteered for Second Helpings and The Ronald Mc Donald House at various times over the past years. Serving meals to those in need within the community is something Jim enjoys doing and has done frequently. Nothing seems to trivial to him when put in the context of helping others with such a basic need. He has both cooked, and served the food as needed. Jim has also helped set up tables, chairs and the general accommodations necessary for such large group meals. Cleaning up afterwards is also something Jim has gladly done many times over the years with both The Ronald Mc Donald House and Second Helpings Organizations.
Jim says, (with an exceedingly contagious, light laugh), that he was inspired by himself to volunteer. He has suffered with Diabetes for approximately fifty years now, and it is this personal life experience that prompted him to get involved with activities benefitting the community. It is this same personal life experience that keeps him involved in community service projects to this day.
Meeting other like minded individuals during while volunteering is what inspired Jim to branch out from assisting in events for the American Diabetes Association to include volunteer work for other community organizations such as Second Helpings and The Ronald McDonald House. Jim showed quite a large amount of enthusiasm when he spoke of the excitement of meeting new people and sharing new experiences with them. I had no trouble understanding that he truly enjoys each and every event he volunteers for, his face positively beams and his eyes shine while he repeats how wonderful he finds volunteering and how every time it is new and exciting and that is absolutely terrific to meet the people involved in planning and producing community service projects along with the community these projects are intended to benefit! I was to treated to another of Jim’s frequent smiles as he told me that volunteering just makes sense to him. In a community there will always be people who need something and if you are able to help them meet any of their needs it is an almost indescribably beautiful feeling to do just that. The chance to see first hand the look of gratitude and happiness on another human beings face for doing something so basic as serving them a meal it is an amazing thing! Even when the work assigned to you is tedious the experience is worthwhile according to Jim. He says that knowing you are helping others even in small ways makes you happy and it ripples out like the proverbial waves in a pond from just one small pebble.
The Aha! moment…
It might be my fanciful nature, but, volunteering seems to have taken deep roots in Jim and blossomed like a lovely flower. He told me that he has learned over the years of participating in community oriented events that anything can happen. Jim has learned how to become very adaptable and accepting of others and their differences. Along with this thought he also mentioned to me he has observed over the years that many volunteers think they know everything about the cause they are volunteering for and it is always interesting to watch the growth process when they realize how much they still need to learn. Jim has learned many things over the course of his years as a volunteer. He said he learns something new from every experience and that he feels happiest when he is helping others so volunteering for him is an absolute necessity and he will continue to volunteer wherever and whenever he is able, doing whatever he is capable of doing.
To summarize it in three words…
- FUN, EXCITEMENT, DISCOVERY
Why should you do this
Jim most definitely recommends that others experience volunteer work for themselves. It is one of the best things you can do for yourself and others in Jim’s opinion, and I certainly tend to agree with him. He has recommended, quite frankly, that I should volunteer with him at The Ronald McDonald House. Jim has recommended becoming a volunteer to many of his friends personally and recommends it in general to everyone and anyone! Volunteers are needed to do almost everything so Jim,s recommendation was to find something in the community you are interested in or have a strong passion for and get involved, but don’t stop there! Jim’s example should urge others to volunteer for a variety of things! No matter what your skill set may be you can be sure there will be a way you can be utilized for and you will be a happier person for having contributed, at least, that is what Jim has assured me. I for one believe him, I am sold, sign me up!