Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Helping Others: No Need To Go Out Of Your Way

We can't help everyone, but everyone can help someone.
Ronald Reagan

We've all been in a time of need.  Maybe you just needed a ride somewhere, some extra cash, a piece of advice, a place to crash or a supportive hug. Every single soul out there has needed something at sometime from someone who didn't have to give you anything.

But he or she did. Why?

The other day I was on campus outside grading (one of my favorite things to do...not really). It was such a beautiful day so there were students everywhere soaking it all in. Such a positive buzz all around.  I overheard a student shout out to a friend, "hey! I need your help, can I get a ride to Ashley's house?" To which the other student replied, "I can't right now." I saw the desperation in the requester's face, but then the another girl standing there said, "I can! It's on my way."

For some reason it got me thinking about helping others and volunteering. I feel as though sometimes there seems to be two extremes when being asked for help: overwhelmed or excited.  It's hard to say no, but on the other hand we need to say no at times. Generally speaking, we want to pay it forward, go out of our way, do what's right for the greater good.

What if we were just honest. Instead of indirectly, or directly making someone else feel like we are going out of our way, we just responded with: "you're on my way" or "I can't right now".

If you think about it in the big picture, no one should volunteer or help others out of guilt or pressure. You do it because it makes you feel good, and it should!

What? Isn't that selfish?

Nope, ask yourself, "where am I going?"  When you think of where you are with your life and you think about ways to add a positive energy to that, where do you see yourself? Helping others because you want to grow, learn something new, connect with someone, and want to increase your chance of happiness as you help someone else find happiness results in a win-win for both parties. It's not selfish. It goes beyond being nice, it's seeing the bigger picture.

It makes sense then to serve someone  or an organization who in return serves you in some psychological, emotional, or spiritual way. They can teach you about a different aspect of life or maybe open your eyes to seeing something a different way. It can be a one time shot, or long term commitment. The choice is yours. There's nothing wrong with picking a time or place based on an area of yourself hat is lacking.  Life is short, spend your time wisely!

If someone feels as though they are "going out of their way" to help someone else, than maybe they should just stay where they are.  Keep opening your mind to new avenues of volunteering, serving others and let others help/serve you. It leads to a healthier life, happiness and higher self- esteem.

"There is no separation between inner and outer, self and other. Tending to ourselves, we tend to the world. Tending the world, we tend to ourselves.
The Wise Heart by Jack Kornfield.

At the STEAM Studio, we rely on different types of volunteers. As a non profit with a mission of inspiring kids of all ages to be interesting and engaged in the area of STEAM, that can sometimes be challenging. It amazes me at the flow of people we have helping. We always can use more (so please jump in if you wish!) but we have volunteers who return consistently without anyone requiring them to do so. These same volunteers also serve others outside of the STEAM Studio.  Here's what some of these RU college students had to say about just that...

Alli W. on volunteering with a wild group of first grade girls' soccer team, "I am thankful for the opportunity to work these girls. It's been amazing experience getting to know them. Each one is different which makes it so fun to be around them and watch them interact."

Mitch F. on serving others from Uganda to the STEAM Studio, "I learn an immense amounts of things from working with different kinds of kids and people. I also learn more about myself and how to be more understanding of others lives and the some struggles people go through." 
Jamison W. on also volunteering at the STEAM Studio and coaching young girls in soccer, "I help because I enjoy being there for them and helping the little ones. It's what I love to do!"

Laine E., our new STEAM Studio Coach/Volunteer Coordinator on what she enjoys about helping others," Supporting creativity and inspriing students to explore new areas is what I love doing. We have support from professionals and STEAM coaches which helps us all achieve."
Next time you volunteer or help someone and they respond with,  
"thanks for going out of your way", 
why don't you say, 
"thank you for getting me on my way."

We all need somebody to lean on...



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