I can truly say that within my first three months as the volunteer coordinator with Volunteers In Action I have been so enlightened and rejuvenated. It’s as if my eyes have truly been opened for the first time in the 15 years I’ve lived in Great Bend. I’m honestly a little embarrassed to admit this, but I also feel fairly confident in knowing I’m not the only 30-something working mom whose life has taken place inside the bubble of her immediate surroundings.
I’ve been completely plugged into my family and my career and completely unplugged from my community and the needs of others outside my bubble. Don’t get me wrong, I cared. I was just too busy trying to keep my bubble from popping. Maybe you can relate?
For example, did you know that the United Way Stuff the Bus event isn’t for collecting donations for school supplies? I didn’t either.
This highly successful event takes place during the back to school season and encourages shoppers to purchase items that are directly distributed to the 19 agencies supported by the United Way of Central Kansas. That’s 19 not-for-profit agencies right here in the Barton and Pawnee county areas that are able to keep their doors open simply because shoppers took the time to purchase needed items for them to operate day in and day out.
Over 20 volunteers contributed their time to make this happen. This is just one of many “aha” moments I’ve had recently.
It also occurred to me that if I’ve been in this bubble then so have my children. That’s not what I want for them.
I want them to take notice of their community and have a level of respect and pride for the place we live. I am very much of the generation with a “what’s in it for me?” mentality and we’re raising children to think the same way with a bonus layer of entitlement perched so visibly on their shoulders.
We talk and talk about how to change this and how to raise leaders. It starts at home – that statement has always resonated with me but I’m realizing my own shortcomings in teaching my children to be leaders within their schools and community - to be good stewards of their time and generosity. How can we teach our children the value of an attitude of gratitude when we as parents are not doing even our part?
I’m challenging myself and you to finally pop our own self-created bubbles. Know what is happening in your community and seek out ways to give back. Show your children the values and places of interest right here at home.
I’m just as guilty of having my nose in my phone as is the youth we are raising. But I’m learning it’s up to me to drag them along if I have to and open their eyes to other ways of living, to show them how being involved, and that volunteering and being aware is good for the soul.
We’re all a part of something bigger than ourselves, and in the state our country and youth is in, the family unit has never been more important. So I encourage you to get plugged back in – to be engaged and engage your children. To lead by example. If we want our youth to be well-rounded, compassionate individuals then we show them how. Put down the phone. Clock out from work. Plug into life and watch a legacy be changed forever.
National Family Volunteer Day is Nov. 22. What will your family do? If your family is looking for a project, call Volunteers In Action and we can help connect you with an agency in our community.
Megan Barfield is the Volunteer Coordinator. She can be reached at 620-792-1614 or email at BarfieldM@bartonccc.edu.