By Lana Turnbull
Have you ever found yourself complaining about something? Maybe it is your town, or your church, your family or even your country. Has anyone ever said to you…“Well, it’s what you make of it”? As I was thinking about the new year, it occurred to me that the same might be said of the coming year. It too will be what we make of it. I decided to challenge myself to ask…“What will I make of my new year?”
This is the moment when if I were writing a mystery story it might be appropriate to suggest we “round up the usual suspects.” Will I resolve to lose weight, eat more veggies, walk every day, read more books…? While these are all good resolutions to have, they only involve me. What if my resolutions this New Year’s Eve included what I can do to make this earth a better place for someone else. As rewarding as it is to meet any positive goal we set for ourselves, I think even greater satisfaction comes from what we do for others.
So this year, I resolve to find at least one thing I can do to make things better for someone or something other than myself. When it comes to volunteering, the options are almost endless. We can contribute to a cause that is dear to us, financially, through our letters and emails to decision makers, or face to face, lending a helping hand. We can mentor a young person, help out at a pet shelter, read to a senior, bake for a neighbor, volunteer at a local food bank, collect clothes or toys for kids in need, start a community recycling program, plant a community garden – the list of possibilities goes on and on.
Volunteering can help us step outside our comfort zone and meet people with whom we otherwise might never have had contact. It also can give us a different view of a particular issue…let’s say hunger in our community. Working at a food bank you might find there are families who need assistance because of a natural disaster, a lost job, or a spouse who has been deployed. Putting faces to those in need can help us understand how vulnerable we all are, and why we need each other.
Volunteering can also help us develop, or even discover a skill, that might be valuable in a paid position. Sometimes through volunteering we find a passion that can be parlayed into a rewarding career.
Whatever our choice for “making a difference,” the premise is simple – we take a situation and through our time and effort, make something better of it, one day, one life, one smile at a time. The new year is a clean slate. What ultimately will be written on it is up to us.