Many businesses and institutions in America could not operate without volunteers. Schools, churches, hospitals, and charitable organizations are just a few of the entities dependent upon volunteers for their survival.
A recent study revealed 64.3 million Americans volunteer, providing 7.9 billion hours of service valued at $171 billion. Volunteers receive no monetary reward. Their gratification and sense of fulfillment is their compensation. They are fulfilled by knowing they have had the satisfaction of expressing their social conscience.
For a fulfilling experience, volunteer to serve in a worthy cause. My good friend, late Georgia Tech Coach Bobby Dodd, loved to tell of his playing days at the University of Tennessee. He finally prevailed on his granddad to come see him play. He said no sooner had his granddad gotten seated when a group of cute girls in short skirts came out on the sideline jumping up and down shouting, “Volunteers! Volunteers!”
Granddad got up and went down and volunteered for whatever it was with which they needed help.
Listen carefully, groups are still calling out for volunteers.
I have had the good fortune of living with a template of a volunteer. As the wife of a pastor, my wife invested countless hours each year in the lives of children and youth through the church. Additionally, she accompanied me to many activities at which her presence was very much to my advantage.
However, there came a day when she acknowledged she loved doing what she did and did not want to relinquish any of her ministry, but ... she paused before continuing to acknowledge she wanted to provide some additional volunteer service in the community.
My thought was, because of time restraints, how could she do more? She did it by stretching her days, managing her time wisely, and prioritizing things in her life. It wasn’t that she had spare time. It was simply that she became an even more effective steward of her time.
For nearly 32 years rain or shine, feeling good and not feeling good, busy and facing demands, she kept her commitment as a volunteer in WellStar Kennestone Hospital. Occasionally some person she was helping would ask how much she got paid. Hearing her response they would express disbelief anybody would do what she was doing without being paid to do it.
They didn’t know her pay wasn’t monetary or in goods and services. Inherent in the doing was the gratification.
Her name is Trudy, but her moniker might well be Legion, for they are many. The legion of loyalists who often serve without even an acknowledgment of thanks keep many institutions going. Without them, our nation’s commerce could not pick up another $171 billion in annual salaries. To each of them, as one who admires them, on behalf of the many who benefit from your services without any acknowledgment of gratitude I say THANK YOU.
To my wife, thank you for being a living and inspiring example of a person doing more than you had to simply because it has always been your nature to give of yourself.
The Rev. Dr. Nelson Price is pastor emeritus of Roswell Street Baptist Church.