Recovery and Why Should I Volunteer?
Every month I have decided to go to the Veterans Affairs Community Living Center to Volunteer (VA-CLC). Last semester I was there almost every week for the service hours I had to complete for my Social Work Practice I class. Currently I am in my last semester as an undergrad at ETSU, so I am in my Field Placement every day of the week. This makes it difficult to go to the VA-CLC every week. However, I planned “miss you” Sunday.
One weekend each month I plan to visit on Sunday when I don’t go home to Morristown. Basically, I don’t go to church on this Sunday and instead I dedicate the same amount of time I would be in worship to volunteering at the CLC.
After winter break I was depressed to find that most of the men I had spent a lot of time with had passed away. They all lived long happy lives. I just hate that I didn’t get to tell them goodbye. With that being said, it was hard for me to go this weekend. I was dreading it because I didn’t want to find out that anyone else had passed away.
The previous “miss you” Sunday was on February 14th. I made valentines and had a small treat to give five men with whom I had formed relationships. It turns out that I only gave two of those out. The rest I left as freebies for whomever didn’t get a valentine. One man was sleeping and the other was across the street in the hospital. Sadly, the others had passed away.
The man who was in the hospital was in a pretty bad condition. Honestly, I wasn’t expecting to see him after Valentine’s Day. This Sunday as I was roaming the halls, M.G. had a new room in the CLC. I was glad to see some small steps of improvement. Even though he isn’t in the hospital, he still isn’t (and probably never will be) in the condition he was when I first met him.
He isn’t social like he used to be, and he is still pretty sick. In fact, sadly, he was hard to recognize due to his illness. He smiled at me to the best of his ability when he recognized me. He grabbed my hand. I said, “I’m so glad to see you! Are you feeling better?” To this question I received no answer. “Are you still feeling pretty awful?” To this he responded with a nonverbal yes.
I told him that my plan was to come monthly and that I was happy to see him. I told him I saw him on Valentine’s Day in the hospital, but he probably didn’t remember that. He still had hold of my hand with his eyes closed. I pulled up a chair and sat beside him for 40 minutes like that. As I looked around the room, I was happy to see that his daughter and granddaughter had been there. They live out of state, so he doesn’t often see them. This time he had pictures of them. This was new and thrilled my soul.
The rest of the time I spent with L.V. He talks a lot. He also says would marry me if he were younger and not so old. We both had a Coca-Cola and watched CNN. He was sleeping last time I visited. He said that he often wondered where I had been and what I had been up to. We talked for about 30 minutes, and I told him I would see him next month.
WHY SHOULD I VOLUNTEER?
Volunteering gives you something to write/journal about.
-It will test the way you think.
-It will be a learning experience.
-It puts faith into action.
-It will increase faith and hope.
-It will increase your ability to love.
-It can help in your recovery journey. (i.e. Substance abuse, mental health)
-It gives you something to do/practice.
-It helps you with learning how to work with others.
-It shows you care about your community.
-It enhances your social skills.
-It looks good on a resume.
How Do I Volunteer?
So maybe you aren’t in a club, church, or organization/major that gives you (and helps you) with the opportunity of volunteering. So how do you do it?
-Ask yourself what you want to do: Do I want to work with animals, children, or elderly populations?
-How far do I want to go (ex. no more than 30 miles) On what days do I want to go? What time do I want to go?
-Google places with the certain population and the radius you have chosen.
-Write down the results, key phrases from each result, and the volunteer contact for each result.
-Pick your top five results
-Pick a day to contact your top five results
– Contact your top five results on the day you picked
-Wait to hear back (Be patient but contact again if you don’t hear back)
-You will want to hear back in about a week and a half
-By 2 and 1/2 weeks you will want to be at your first day on site even if it’s just training and orientation for volunteering
-Write down the info they tell you to do in order to volunteer
-After you hear back choose the one you want to do
How will I know what to pick?
What do you want out of your volunteer experience?
Challenge? A job? Bettering yourself? Passion? Love? Giving back?
-Go do what your contact person has instructed you to do in order to volunteer.
My first day at the VA consisted of training and a TB test. The next week was finally when I got to be with the patients in the VA-CLC.
-Once you go through volunteering follow through on the days you have planned to volunteer
-Reap the Benefits and enjoy the Adventure
If you need a resource other than Google or don’t have anything in mind, a valuable resource is the website Volunteer Match.