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Unearth your Spirit of Altruism

Give a little and Gain So Much More

Are you the one jumping in to help with tasks beyond your normal scope of duties because of a fast approaching deadline or the parent teachers appreciate, because even on last minute notice, you take the day off to chaperon the school day trip?

How about where there is no direct or indirect, tangible or otherwise benefit to the giver; that is, service essentially done out of sheer altruism, will you still be so quick to jump in?

Research shows that one of the advantages of volunteering is that it shifts the focus from the individual to others.  Although the focus of this article is on traditional face to face volunteering, there are a plethora of remote volunteering opportunities.  They offer the added convenience of making that difference sometimes from the comfort of wherever you have internet access.

How I can contribute – Opportunities abound.

a) For Charity  – Give of your special skill, talent or passion.  Are you retired and wondering what to do with your extra time?  You could be of assistance to a senior in need of help with everyday necessities; or are you a healthcare professional who can offer a few hours of assistance for free?.  Have you ever wondered how you always seem to end up the default photographer at every family event?  Perhaps you just love being behind the camera.  So why not serve in a different capacity and have fun in the process?  Different local organizations organize for portraits to be taken of veterans, adoptive parents, the elderly, homeless or even cancer patients.

b) Meal Preparation and delivery – If you enjoy preparing meals or giving your time as a garden volunteer or educating people about hunger issues, how about contacting your local food bank?

c) Church Ministry — Different groups within the church engage in community outreach.  It could be a car wash or serving the elderly at an Assisted living facility or even a game night for the kids of families in a transitional home. Mission trips organized by faith based organizations provide ample notice for proper planning especially if it is not a local trip.  It is usually a great way to serve and bond with other members outside of the church environment.

d) United Services Organization Airport Assistance Centers  – Why not help lift the spirit of our troops and their families by assisting at the airport?  Volunteers greet guests, check military IDs, manage the snack bar and assist guests with airport information, flight information, ground transportation, photocopying and faxing, and help guests with various travel questions.  The USO is not part of the U.S. government, but is recognized by the Department of Defense, Congress and President of the United States, who serves as Honorary Chairman of the USO.

Altruism is when we act to promote someone else’s welfare, even at a risk or cost to ourselves





e) Local Bar Associations — Check to see what programs they may offer usually with a special focus on serving low income clients.  Licensed Attorneys may assist with simple will preparation, filing social security claims and assisting with business registrations.  Most of these programs will have mentoring resources available to the lawyers at all levels.

f) Film Festivals — Check your local papers or the internet for upcoming national or regional film festivals.  It is an opportunity to serve and even meet local film directors, sell tickets at the box office, help as a stage hand or even work in the hospitality lounge.  There is usually an orientation session a few weeks ahead of the film festival and there is the added perk of getting a free t-shirt.

g) Races, Marathons, Walks – supporting a variety of causes — So you know your knees cannot take it, but who says you have to be a runner to be a race or walk participant? Other ways you can be of assistance include handing out race packets before the race, a part of the clean up team or even a course marshal that directs runners as they make their way along the course while keeping the runners’ spirits high and providing them encouragement.

g) Pledge Drives – So you enjoy public television but you cannot afford to give a monetary donation.  Guess what? you can still  make a contributions; in kind by giving of your time.  How so? by participating in a live pledge drive.

In summary the benefits of volunteering are numerous but here are a few;

1) An opportunity to develop a new skill;

2) meet a diverse group of people from different backgrounds and walks of life;

3) be a part of a community;

4) a source of good references and more.

5) Meaningful, Fulfilling way to spend one’s time.

6) Flexibility and wide selection of opportunities to choose from.


Altruistic: originates from the Old French altruistic

and means “other people” and before that the Latin alter,

which means “other.”

Our current word comes from the nineteenth century and comes from philosophy;


Here are a few considerations to help narrow down your choices in terms of where you would like to spend your time and resources volunteering (source:

1) Would you like to work with adults, children, or animals, or remotely from home?

2) Do you prefer to work alone or as part of a team?

3) Are you better behind the scenes or do you prefer to take a more visible role?

4) How much time are you willing to commit?

5) How much responsibility are you ready to take on?

6) What skills can you bring a volunteer job?

7) What causes are important to you?

French philosopher Auguste Comte coined the word altruism

Self-sacrifice for the benefit of others –

in 1851, and two years later it entered the English language as altruism


Let us know what other ways you have given or you can give of your time or and talent? In what other ways have you shown an altruistic spirit?



Broad based knowledge seeker; outside and beyond the box - arts and culture, travel, writing, christian faith walk, good reads and refreshing conversation - and not necessarily in that order. Storytelling by connecting the dots between the traditional and non-traditional, the obvious and not so obvious.

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