Helping others is a calling

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 17, 2003

Getting involved and helping others has always been a major part of my life. It's something I was raised by my parents and grandparents to do. But it's much more than that upbringing - it's really a calling.

In high school, I was an active volunteer at one of the local nursing homes where my mother worked. In fact, I was the very first volunteer on the facility's rolls.

That sense of helping others continued throughout high school as I tried to associate myself with as many organizations as I could that helped either the school or the community.

I worked fair booths, sold doughnuts, pizza cards, worked concession stands and the like just to help my group.

In college, it continued; as it has in adulthood.

Yes, I really think it's a calling. Working on the first ever Relay for Life in Covington County was one of the most rewarding experiences I've ever had. It ranks right up there with helping organize and coordinate the Olympic Torch Relay through Dothan and into Florida in 1996 as part of an unpaid internship with the United Way.

I joke with the people I volunteer with and assist that when people see me coming, they don't even bother to bait the hook, they just reel me in like a big fat catfish.

But that's fine. It's something I truly enjoy doing. There is no greater reward in my mind than helping others who need it the most. Putting to use the talents (although they're few) that God has given me to help others.

I recently had the opportunity to visit with an organization that helps those who need it most. An organization that helps those who are trying to cope with end of life preparations and the emotional loss associated with it. During that visit, I learned about a special camp - Camp Brave Heart - held yearly to help children cope with the emotions of losing a loved one. It piqued my interest.

I too, as a teen, experienced the loss of three very significant people in my life - both my grandfathers and one of my grandmothers. Although I was fortunate to have my other grandmother until just a few years ago, I can relate to a lot of these children. Is this camp something I can help out with? Could I possibly volunteer my time to help these young kids deal with the loss they have experienced?

To my surprise, the answer was yes. There is an application process to assist at the camp, and as I write this, I'm leaning towards filling out that application to offer my assistance.

I may not be a professional counselor, but I do understand the feelings these young kids and teens are experiencing - and I might could convey what helped me understand the loss in a way they might understand.

But it's so much more than just offering my time. There are so many things all of us can do to help others. All we have to do is just be willing to give of our time, energy and talents. What may not seem like much to us, could mean a lifetime, if not just a moment, of happiness for someone else.

Giving of ourselves - sure, it makes us feel good - all warm and fuzzy on the inside, but that's not the point. The point of giving of ourselves is to make others feel better. And what could be better than that?