I’m almost half way through my adventures in volunteering. It came as no surprise that my experiences have been both rewarding and fun. What did surprise me was the difficulty I encountered getting scheduled at a volunteer venue. I knew I would have to work hard at making time to give my time. But I learned there is a lot of competition out here. Western Carolina University and Southeastern Community College reside in Jackson County and both either strongly encourage or require their students to participate in the community. I had to up my game to earn my slot to help out. I say that with a light heart because it’s a great “problem” to have. I’ve been inspired by selfless souls of all ages. Maybe the greatest thing I’ve learned in my five months is how many giving hearts live in this community.
I’m not sure if I’ll be able to find 12 separate places to volunteer, or at least places I’m well suited for. Our business partner told me of a man who gives wood to families in need to help heat their homes. He needed help chopping and loading the firewood. I know I would only slow down that process and possivly loose a finger or two. Know your strengths!
My original plan was to write a full report on all my experiences to date. Then I considered how verbose I tend to be, and decided to break my adventures into volunteering vignettes.
Volunteering Vignette # 1: PAWS
My first venture into volunteering was at the Bryson City no- kill animal shelter called PAWS. The man I contacted, who managed the shelter, was the quiet type and not socially engaging but when he gave me the tour of the facility he knew every animals sad and tragic story. He came alive when talking to the animals and they responded in kind. He was hopeful for each and every one and shared their past success stories as well. An encouraging fact I learned about PAWS is they collect food and pet supplies to hand out the families in the area who financially have trouble taking care of their beloved pets.
My job was to socialize with the animals. I started in the cat room and sat quietly on the bench to let the furry felines become aware of my presence. I received the full range of cattiudes: social, indifferent and pissed off. A couple were thrilled to be petted and played with, a few sneered at me then walked out the cat door and the others just stared at me because I was the only entertainment available at the moment.
Next I went and socialized with Merry, the recently found beagle mix and mother to 6 puppies in the wild. She and her litter had their own room and when I came on the scene she was more than happy to get a break from her long-eared ankle biters. She was timid but sweet and enjoyed leaning againist me in the setting sun for some back scratches. We sat together, drinking in the last warmth of the day and seemed to gain a silent peace from each other’s company. I felt her gratitude and I like to think she felt the calm she gave me in that serene moment. Merry’s fur was soft to the touch, and she had expressive eyes I’ll never forget.
Biggest surprise from PAWS: I didn’t take one animal home. It is a lot easier on the heart, knowing they don’t have an expiration date here.
** Stay tuned for the next volunteering vignette- Community Table **
“We choose our state of mind, just as we choose our behaviors and our paths in life. So choose to do something great today for yourself and others- be positive!” ~ author unknown