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Here’s a loaded question for you. How many of you knew last week was National Volunteer Week?  Hmmmm …how many people said, “Well, I knew it was in April” or “I have heard of it before” or as I would imagine the vast majority had absolutely no clue.

I was going to inform you last week and give you lists of fabulous ideas and pages of great projects that you could engage in, but then I thought, “No, let’s see what these fine upstanding citizens can come up with on their own.” If you are in the minority, and you are proudly having a discussion with your conscious saying, “Well, I took cookies to the fire station; she’s not as smart as she thinks she is” or you said to yourself, “I’m going to touch base with Ms. Leigh Anne Tuohy and let her know I helped clean up the local park” or “I did this or that.” Well, good for you; do more! More is badly needed.

Volunteer at a community garden!

So much of our life is scripted. We are creatures of habit. We are list makers, planners; we are goal setters and do gooders by nature. Last week, we should have all stepped up and been difference makers.  We should have had National Volunteer Week on our ipads, ipods, blackberrys, iphones, and a note stuck on the fridge. We do this for things far less important. We should have held parades and had rallies. We should have painted signs that read “Stamp out hunger,” “Make sure everyone can read,” “Electricity for all,”  “Love those no one loves,” “Don’t litter,” and we should have stood on every street corner in America at rush hour with our signs, holding buckets for donations and shouting, “Please help!” We should have marched on the courthouse steps. We should be angry that families live in cars and intelligent teenagers don’t have an option to go to college much less have adequate school supplies and health care.

As I said, we certainly get angry over things of much less importance and become passionately involved with things that don’t really matter, that are totally unimportant. We invest ourselves in so many things that are self-serving when an act as simple as volunteering could create much needed assistance and serve so many. Yet we just acknowledged that most of us had no clue that last week was the golden opportunity to say, “Hey, I want to jump in and do my part.” I want to be the best volunteer there has ever been!

It should have been a week that social media was filled with tips and ideas to lend a helping hand to step up and change a life. The Nightly News should have been over run with story after story of people who were awe inspiring, even if it was just something as simple as a kind individual who was found in the local park looking for figures in the clouds with a foster child and sharing an ice cream cone with him after that simple act of involvement and giving of one’s time. Unfortunately, it seems to me that we are a nation of people who like to draw lines in the sand. We want to say here’s my obligation; here’s my responsibility and when I get to that self appointed line then I have fulfilled my duty. We like to have closure, a finishing point. It’s  like we want this imaginary finish line that says when you cross here your mission is completed.

Well ladies and gentlemen, that is just not the case with volunteering! There is always works to be done and precious ones who need to be helped. I can tell you from personal experience that once you become involved in the act of giving of yourself and your time that each day you will be drawn to continue to do more and more. You will begin to think of endless possibilities that could change lives and move the needle. Your imagination runs wild with thoughts of potential. If you have dreamed of being a leader, well here’s your chance. You can be the lead volunteer! It will be a position that can not only change your life but those around you. Leadership is really about inspiring those around you and leading by example. Let your family, friends and associates see a change in you.  Make a lasting impression on them and I bet you a plug nickel they will follow!

There is no time like the present to get started. Just because you missed the assigned dates last week doesn’t mean you put it off until next year. Get up and get going and don’t make it seem like a daunting task. We can all do simple things each and every day that will have a positive impact on those around us. How hard is it to look for figures in the clouds? Here’s where the rubber meets the road….what we believe, what we think and what we say will only be as effective as what we actually get up and do. So volunteer and volunteer often and be the very best do’er you can be and it will change a life for the better!

Photo credit by: AARP

Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @LeighAnneTuohy and play #TuohyTrivia on Tuesdays for a chance to win a $25 donation to the charity of your choice for answering the question correctly. Learn more about my family’s charity at The Making It Happen Foundation.

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