Editor’s Note: Today’s blog entry is a reprint of a July 2009 column by Harry Adams, a regular contributor to our quarterly Volunteer Voices newsletter. His words of wisdom are timeless.
Not everyone is or can be a volunteer. It takes a person with certain gifts and a certain quality of life to be a volunteer. Let me support that assertion by indicating one of the gifts and one of the qualities of life which a volunteer inevitably has.
First the gift. There is a haunting line in Samuel Beckett’s play, “Waiting for Godot.” At one point Vladimir says: “Was I sleeping, while the others suffered? Am I sleeping now?” It is possible for people to be unaware of the hunger, the homelessness, the despair of others in the community in which they live. They simply don’t see what is right before their eyes.
The volunteer has the gift of awareness, of not sleeping while others are suffering.
Second, the quality of life. It is possible for people to be aware of the desperate needs of others and to be convinced that the problems are really of no concern to them. They can isolate themselves from others and care only for themselves.
Volunteers have a different understanding of what it means to be human. They believe that life is fulfilled not simply by getting things for oneself, but by sharing their gifts and resources with those who are less fortunate.
The world is blessed daily by those who do not sleep while others suffer. The world is blessed daily by those who find joy and satisfaction in sharing time, energy and money so those who suffer may be helped.
Posted by Harry Adams, who was a faculty member and chaplain at Yale University for 45 years, and is a member of Connecticut Food Bank’s volunteer family.