Why I Needed to Volunteer


It started because I threw myself a pity party, reservation of one. A few months ago I was really sad and couldn’t shake the funk that followed me like a dark cloud. I tried sleeping more, reading more, eating more (that was easy), exercising more (that was hard), but nothing helped. It was then when I realized my self-remedies were all focused on me. Me feeling better. And while this isn’t a bad thing in it and of itself, it still boiled down to me being selfish with my sadness.

I wanted to be totally and utterly alone.

It wasn’t until I started finding ways to help others that my heart started to mend. At first I didn’t know where to turn because most organizations (like my church or local food bank) needed a consistent level of commitment. Being a wedding photographer who travels extensively, this wasn’t option. After a frustrating search on the web, I stumbled across VolunteerMatch.org and it was amazing. I simply typed in my geographic location and it listed a myriad of volunteer options, all varying in needs from volunteers.

It was there I found an organization providing a halfway house for homeless women and children in Orange County. Its volunteer needs were many, but I found the perfect fit for me: providing dinner for the residents of the house. Basically, we make the dinner and set up the meal in their home.

At first I didn’t know what to expect when we carried in groceries from our car, but the minute I crossed the front gate, the sounds of traffic, mariachi music, and sirens dissipated. I was immediately surrounded by kids who offered to help carry the food and who also wanted a hug. It was overwhelmingly beautiful.

As we cleaned the kitchen after dinner, I listened to stories of recovering drug addicts, girls who are working two jobs and going to school at night, and others who escaped unhealthy relationships. It was impossible to feel sorry for myself when the strength of these courageous mothers was palpable.

I look forward to returning on a monthly basis with dinner and I hope this results in more ways to give of my time. If you’re interested in finding a way to give to the community, I’d definitely give VolunteerMatch.org a look…you may find the perfect fit for you.