Monday, April 1, 2024

Woo Woo


By Pauline Evanosky


I’ve never been trained to be a spiritual advisor, yet when I settle to write an inspirational sort of article, I imagine that I am writing a sermon. I don’t necessarily focus on holy words from the Bible or any other religious work, but I pull from my own lessons of life.

One of those I’d like to talk about today is generosity.

You don’t have to be wealthy to be generous. The definition of generosity is giving money or time beyond what is normal. What is normal? I guess that depends on what is expected of you. If nobody expects much, then your threshold for giving is lower.

If you didn’t already have somebody in mind to be generous to, you might think of any number of organizations that rely on volunteers to help them accomplish their goals. The Red Cross springs to mind. Local food banks are also in need of volunteers. Soup kitchens. Churches. Old folk homes might need people to help. Libraries might need help, too. Hospitals. In your city, schools might rely upon the help of volunteers to help children.

You could ask yourself what you know or are interested in. Then, in this internet age, you might advertise your tutoring services on a neighborhood bulletin board. Maybe you could say you have three hours of time twice a week to help out a single young mother. Or, you could volunteer to do a couple of hours of yard work for an elderly person.

Many times, people in need don’t ask. You are the one who needs to say, “Do you need help?”

You could even learn a new trade. Many businesses are willing to accept volunteers to come in and help with easy tasks. Maybe they need help answering visitors' questions. Maybe they just need somebody to answer the phones. The thing with answering the phones at any business is that it forces you to learn about the business to be able to answer questions. Nobody expects you to know that sort of stuff right off the bat, and yet, those positions are generally filled by new hires. They just throw you into the water and see if you can swim.

At first, there are many “I can ask someone about this for you” questions. That is the same for any job. You get the contact number, write down the question, and pass it along for someone to either tell you what the answer is or they can handle it. What you want is to be able to answer those questions yourself eventually.

The organization might have a training day or a course they want you to take before you begin volunteering. You might need to have taken a basic Red Cross safety course or CPR course. For a soup kitchen, having a food handler’s permit might be necessary or preferred.

Think about this: A customer walks into a store and asks where the toilet paper is. Somebody who has worked there a long time right away says, “At the end of aisle 21.” This means this is a large store. A person who does not know the layout of the store wouldn’t know. One of the first things a newly hired stockperson or clerk in a grocery store needs to know is where the stuff is. I can guarantee nobody is going to quiz you on this. It is your responsibility to know. I know this because I once was a bagger at a local grocery store.

The questions, no matter where you are volunteering your time, you should know before you begin volunteering might include:

  • i. Who is a person who can help you learn the ropes? If there is no particular person, ask how the organization is set up.
  • 2. Who is the boss?
  • 3. Can you have an organizational chart?
  • 4. How do you take messages? Is there a standard policy, or can you just write notes?
  • 5. What is the layout of the campus or building? What doors should you use? Where is the bathroom? Where can visitors go? Where can you go to take a break?
  • 6. Where can you park your car if you have one?
Volunteering at the front desk of any organization is one of the toughest positions. You really do need to learn a lot. The trade-off is that if you are looking for work, you can document how many hours you volunteer and use them on a resume. This shows prospective employers that you both volunteered your time without getting paid and learned what a receptionist knows. Being polite to the public is very, very important in any position.

Often, charitable organizations do not have the money to pay people to help them accomplish their goals. They depend on the help of volunteers. Besides, that volunteer position you have, depending on how much you learn, might allow you to be considered for a paying position eventually. If not that, then you are gaining valuable experience in how the world works and can take that experience wherever you go.

The contacts you make in volunteering will often enable you to plan ahead. If not with a particular company, then just with word-of-mouth endorsements. For example, say an older lady is volunteering with you in a soup kitchen. You work alongside her. She gets to know that you are dependable. As she is more comfortable with you as a person, she begins to show you some of the ropes. You volunteered there for two years, so now she knows who you are. She knows you are helpful, that she can trust you, and that you are resourceful. She knows how you operate under pressure, and she knows you are generous to other people, clients, and volunteers. Guess who will put in a good word for you when her nephew mentions they are looking for someone to help out in his company.

You can’t build a contact base without being generous. Otherwise, you are just another salesperson marketing yourself.

Everybody needs help, but they don’t always ask. Showing a generosity of spirit can be helpful to both you and the people and organizations you volunteer for.

Click on the author's byline for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.
This issue appears in the ezine at and also in the blog with the capability of adding comments at the latter.

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