I never imagined I would be saying “Happy Easter” to over 100 homeless people. But this year my family and I decided that instead of sleeping in that we would volunteer at the Denver Rescue Mission on Easter morning and then go to brunch. It turned out to be such a great decision.
We arrived at the Denver Rescue Mission at 5 am, went inside and after a quick check in we were put to work. Each of us was assigned jobs preparing, then serving breakfast. I was put at the coffee station with a young woman I didn’t know. After a brief introduction we got to work. Nearly everyone wanted coffee and came to our station right after they got their food. We wanted to keep the line moving so their breakfast didn’t get cold waiting for hot coffee.
But I also wanted to say a proper good morning to each person, so I made it a point to give each person a big smile with their coffee. At the start of our shift I thought it was about me giving to them, but I very quickly realized the truth about smiling at someone – it warms the heart of both people.
As you deal with the pangs of empty nest distress it is important to fill your heart with warmth at every opportunity. Volunteering is a great opportunity to fill your calendar and your heart simultaneously.
Chances are you have put in plenty of volunteer time over the years but most of it has likely been for your kid(s). Fundraising for school, coaching or other sports related activities, room parenting, scout leading… the need for your time never seemed to end. But then it did. What now?
You may already know where you can put your skills and talents to use in your community. If not, the best place to start is to jot down some ideas of what you’re looking for as a volunteer.
Do you want a one-time opportunity or a recurring one?
Do you want to physically go somewhere or put your time in virtually?
Is there a particular cause that pulls at you?
You may be drawn to volunteering for kids or teens because that is what you have spent so much time doing the past 18 years. I encourage you not to do this yet. If empty nesting is new to you it may be painful to be around kids and it may just make you miss your own kids more. More importantly it doesn’t help you to grow beyond being a caregiver to children. Instead, try going outside your comfort zone and give your time and attention to something different.
Here is a good way to find volunteer opportunities:
Volunteer Match makes it easy for good people and good causes to connect. They have connected millions of people with a great place to volunteer and helped tens of thousands of organizations better leverage volunteers to create real impact. You can search for opportunities in your area or virtual ones based on what causes you want to help. It is super easy to find a way to help.
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