April is National Volunteer Month!

For those of you who don’t know, April is National Volunteer Month, and actually, National Volunteer Week runs from April 19 – 25.

I know it takes a lot to go out there and volunteer, and to give your time and yourself. As my friend Shawn Wehan, who is the founder and leader of Future Leaders of Our Community (www.flocers.org), succinctly told me, those who make their full-time jobs in volunteer organizations really feel they have been called.

It’s amazing really, and I truly admire those that make it their life’s work to make the world a better place. I strive to be that kind of person, and I wish I could totally let go of all material wants. I think a lot about how I want to spend my time, and I really hope to be a vessel of goodness and change. Anyway, it’s a goal of mine and maybe someday I will be enlightened enough to do this full-time.

But, as a start, last Saturday, as part of Boston University’s Global Day of Service, I organized a group of BU families, parents and alums to help out with the Boys Hope Girls Hope organization (www.boyshopegirlshope.org). Boys Hope Girls Hope provides at risk children (i.e., those that grew up in neighborhoods shattered by crime and poverty or families broken by economic hardship, death, and divorce) with stable homes, a first-class education, and financial and emotional support. By providing opportunities to learn more about themselves and the world, Boys Hope Girls Hope empowers children to realize the potential that is within them. It’s so powerful what that difference makes to their lives.

Our BU group was charged to clean up the Girls’ Home in Fullerton, CA and it was amazing to witness that all of these girls living in that home (which was quite tidy, by the way) are on their way to becoming college graduates. This would not be even a possibility without the guidance and support of Boys Hope Girls Hope.

Anyway, I just think this organization is amazing. I was so inspired that I told Tim Rogers, the community and development manager for BHGH SoCal, that I want to do more, so I will get to meet the kids in the Boys’ Home next week. Apparently, Tim thinks that they will be inspired by me when they hear all about my educational and professional success. Isn’t that so funny? OK. I hope I can be an inspiration?

I’m also volunteering with Make-A-Wish during their annual Walk for Wishes event tomorrow. I have been helping out with Make-A-Wish for the last 8 years, functioning mostly as a wish granter (helping kids fulfill their dream wish). In this capacity, I have seen the most amazing kids overcome life-threatening diseases. I had one ten-year old child who had to deal with a degenerative bone disease and lost both his legs from the knee down. He was in a wheelchair, and all he wanted was to collect rare coins. He had studied all the different coins and knew exactly which ones he wanted, so off we went (with his family) from CHOC (Children’s Hospital of Orange County) to a rare coin dealer to get him some precious coins. The excitement and happiness on his face was priceless! But, one of the best parts? We had a budget for the coins, but the coin shop owner was so ridiculously generous that he threw in several additional rare coins in the mix, in addition to a gorgeous hardback book of coins. Wow! People are really amazing.

Really though, what’s most incredible is meeting and getting to know the kids. They are so strong, and positive, even if they do suffer from a life-threatening disease. They inspire me.

Anyway, I hope these stories have inspired you to spend some of your time with an organization that means a lot to you. No, you won’t get paid in the traditional sense, but I promise you, you will get paid so much more than you will ever know.

“Help others enjoy prosperity, and you will become wealthy. Help others to be truly happy, and you will be filled with joy. Teach to others, and you will learn. No matter who you are or how doggedly life has beat you down, you have something to offer, something that will make your life shine.  Who can you help? What can you do to make a difference?”

Me with Jenny (BU Mom) and members from FLOC at last week’s Boys Hope Girls Hope Girls’ Home for our BU Global Day of Service

I found this old photo from a 2005 Make-A-Wish event! Great volunteers!

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