Volunteers are an essential element of FCNI. So much so, that we have an entire department dedicated to working with the 500+ volunteers who work with us each year--some as mentors or tutors, and others who work on our fundraising events or help with administrative tasks. Our volunteers dedicate over 3,000 hours every year to our mission--that’s a lot of time, energy and compassion in motion!
We count on our community to serve those in our care through the many volunteer opportunities we have--not because it helps our bottomline, but because our youth and families benefit so much from the generosity of their fellow community members. Our volunteers add an invaluable kindness to our support services, and communicate a side of humanity to our clients that we, as an agency, cannot. A community volunteer says, “I want to help you--not because I have to, but because your wellbeing is important to me. I care about you.” This is a powerful message to someone struggling to heal and/or find their footing in life, especially when it comes from someone living in their home community.
In honor of the many volunteers who serve alongside of us, we want to share with you a personal perspective written by one of our volunteers. This seasoned volunteer is about to embark on a new journey as an FCNI mentor, and their outlook on volunteering couldn’t be more inspiring.
“Volunteering has been a passion of mine ever since I was a little kid. There is something about helping others that makes me feel fulfilled. Ever since I was little, I was always volunteering. Whether I was helping in my church or in the community, I loved it. It’s absolutely amazing to me how by doing something for someone else can brighten their day and yours. For example, a simple wave or smile on the street to someone you happen to walk by can have a huge impact on that person. Not to mention, a wave or a smile is a very small, simple gesture on my part--it’s easy to give. That’s what is so great about volunteering--you do not need to do anything extraordinary, you just need to be there and show that you care by giving your attention to the people you are helping. This action of just being there can really make a positive impact on someone.
Moreover, volunteering or just being there for others in general can have a chain reaction of kindness. The saying, “one act of random kindness can change the whole world” is a good way to understand what I am talking about. For instance, when someone does something nice for someone else (like a smile on the street), it can have a positive impact on that person’s entire day. This makes that person who received your kindness more likely to do something kind for someone else., triggering a a cycle of kindness. This cycle will hopefully continue on from one person to the another, and so on and so on.
For myself, I have been very fortunate to have experienced this cycle of kindness through mentors. Growing up, I had a few mentors in my own life who have had a very positive influence on me, and now I can continue on to do the same for someone else. That’s why I became a mentor.
I am looking forward to a lot with my mentee. Firstly, I am excited to hang out with them and for us to get to know each other. I feel like just taking the time to get to know someone can be very meaningful in and of itself. Additionally, I am quite excited to learn about my mentee’s hobbies. Showing an interest in someone else’s hobbies, is a simple way to show them that you care. I am also thrilled to hopefully have a positive influence on my mentee just like my mentors did for me. I want to be able to make a difference.
I know I do not need to do anything extraordinary to make a difference; I just need to be a good friend to my mentee. From my own life experience, I have learned that having or being a good friend can make all the difference in a person’s life.
Lastly, I cannot wait to learn more about myself and life in general through my mentor relationship. That’s one of the greatest things about helping others; by helping other people, you don’t just teach them, they also teach and help you as well. You just have to be open and be willing to volunteer.”
Be “willing to volunteer” is no small ask, we know. But “volunteering” can also encompass a myriad of activities--from small to big! For example, you could lend a hand at an event for a couple of hours, or decide to tutor a foster youth once a week, or come to the office once a month to make copies to help staff, or you could even decide you want to spend a year building a mentor relationship with a teen. We have all kinds of “fits” for all different “sized” volunteers. And there is NO act of volunteerism that is too small or too big--it all depends on who is doing the volunteering!
For more information about FCNI’s volunteer opportunities, please visit our website at FCNI.org or call our main office at 805-781-3535 and ask!