Today, I volunteered to help at my son’s school. I’ll be honest– it wasn’t just about helping out the teacher, it was a great way for me to feel useful and connected to my community. I felt exactly the same yesterday after I volunteered to speak at Georgetown University about family law litigation and alternate dispute methods for families that want to preserve goodwill and funds by focusing on settlements outside of court. Volunteering for over 20 years has been part of my passion, and I think it is perfectly fine to admit that it is not just about doing a good deed, it is healthy and normal to enjoy the rewarding feeling that fills you while you are helping others.
Especially in this economy, where we may not be able to be as generous with funds, we can certainly make an effort to find some time to donate to a good cause. For parents with young children, I think it is important to foster in them a sense of responsibility to the community at an early age. If they cannot volunteer yet, but they at least see you do it, you are planting a seed by modeling the behavior for them. Up until now, I have not involved my son much in community service efforts because he is only 8, but he at least knows that I am doing these activities and that soon enough, we will be looking at things to do together in this vein.
My clients who are feeling down about their personal situations have all told me that one afternoon of volunteering at a shelter did wonders for helping them put things in perspective. Many friends looking for Mr. Right have told me that they have met wonderful people with common interests while doing a good deed.
There are great resources for finding ways to volunteer in your local community. My alma maters regularly send emails with projects for alums, and Bethesda Magazine recenty did an article on charitable activities. There are also various websites, including Idealist.org that post opportunities regularly. Especially during this holiday season, if you cannot donate money I urge you to consider giving some of your time for a good cause– not only will you be helping others, you will be helping yourself. I promise, it will lift your spirits!
By Regina A. DeMeo, Esq.