Thursday, January 7, 2010

Volunteering

Way back when I was a senior in college, I had my first volunteer experience.  It was at a free clinic in a housing project in the City of Detroit.  I only lasted a few weeks.  Even though I was serving an internship at the City hospital and was used to 'not-so-great' working conditions, the free clinic was even worse.  Instead, I found a part-time job on weekends.

When I quit working at the hospital to be a stay-at-home mom, I had some time to volunteer.  I got involved with my sons' Cub Scout Pack.  I stayed involved as they moved through the ranks, and today, 25+ years later, I am the treasurer for the local Boy Scout Troop 1000.  My sons, of course, have been gone from scouting for many years.

I also found time to volunteer at my church, teach religion, participate in school committees and be involved in the community.  Then I went back to grad school and back to work.  Volunteering took a back seat, along with my hobbies.  Not that I still did not do them, but the focus was on organizational work associated with my career.

So, when I retired, I decided to devote some time to regular volunteering that I might enjoy for me.  Though for many years I had manned our local used book shop in our library once-a-month, I wanted to pursue one of my passions.

When a new hospital opened in town and was looking for volunteers I submitted my name.  During the interview, they asked about my talents and interests.  I had been taking evening adult ed classes in culinary arts at a local college for the last few years.  So, along with listing my career experience in pharmacy, laboratory medicine, and finance, I also said that I love to cook.  And voila, I got assigned to the kitchen.

Today was my scheduled day.  I usually work in the pastry kitchen.  I finish up whatever the pastry chefs have not had time to complete for the day.  Baking off cookies and cakes, dipping and wrapping cookies, packaging sweet treats, whatever.  While I love the work, the best part is knowing that someone appreciates what I am doing.  And they tell me that everytime I am there.

In my last career, I was more likely to hear people complain.  When I announced my decision to retire, I had people calling and stopping by the office to tell me how much I would be missed and what a great job I had been doing.  I wished that I had heard that over the 20+ years I was there.  Oh, I know that I had support in the community, but very few people were verbal about it.  And thinking about it when I was leaving, I wished that I had thanked people more often for the wonderful job they did.  So, thanks again to all of you who work so hard to serve your community.

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