A few years ago, the U.S. Postal Service issued a commemorative stamp in honor of “Volunteers.” Although I thought the sentiment was nice, I was still working and my concept of volunteers was, I admit, fairly limited. In fact, I didn’t even realize my own volunteer commitments.
Then I retired and stepped into the wonderful world of volunteers — those who have a certain amount of discretionary time and who decide that retirement has a better purpose than “killing time until you die.”
There are plenty of people who are still working for a living who fit volunteer activities into their schedules. I salute them! And I realize that I used to be one of them. They are parents, church and synagogue members and friends, participants in clubs, museums, a wide variety of societies and any number of social service programs, especially those that feed the hungry, and local government boards and committees.
“Accept an assignment, then you won’t feel responsible for the whole thing,” Sister Corita Kent said.
There are volunteers who do one little thing that is part of a much larger purpose, but doing that single job keeps someone else from having to do it and better qualified people can spend their time on more technical matters.
Then there are the volunteer opportunities in which one comes face to face with those who are served. These carry with them their own kind of challenges and rewards. And for those who spend or have spent our working days in more isolated pursuits, these volunteer gigs can offer a healthy alternative.
When I look around the Santa Barbara Family YMCA, I see volunteers who are here for 15 or 20 hours each week, and I see those who come in for specific meetings and classes. We have volunteers on the front desk, and participants in the annual Campaign for Youth and Families. We have volunteers who teach swim lessons, who staff teen programs such as the Model UN and Youth and Government. We have volunteers who help run our day camps and summer camps. Our Fit For Life instructors are volunteers, and our boards and committees are made up of volunteers.
That doesn’t even begin to consider the number of volunteers it takes to coach, keep score and officiate all the children’s, youth and adult soccer, baseball, basketball and football programs. And let’s not forget those who stuff envelopes, make telephone calls and run errands as the needs arise.
Really, where would the Y be without volunteers? We couldn’t begin to run all the programs and activities we run without all the helping hands that pitch in.
The branches of the Channel Islands YMCA offer a variety of volunteer opportunities for all ages. Click here or contact a local branch for more detailed information.
» Camarillo Family YMCA, 3111 Village at the Park Drive, 805.484.0423
» Lompoc Family YMCA, 201 W. College Ave., 805.736.3483
» Montecito Family YMCA, 591 Santa Rosa Lane, 805.969.3288
» Santa Barbara Family YMCA, 36 Hitchcock Way, 805.687.7727
» Stuart C. Gildred YMCA, 900 N. Refugio Road, Santa Ynez, 805.686.2037
» Ventura Family YMCA, 3760 Telegraph Road, 805.642.2131
— Thomas Schmid is an Active Older Adult Program specialist for the Channel Islands YMCA.