My Selfish Altruism: Being a Volunteer

It’s a paradox, I know. But I can’t help myself. I just get so much enjoyment from being a volunteer.

As a former staffer and regular volunteer with Symphony Nova Scotia, lending a hand at SNS concerts and events is one of my favourite ways to support the Arts. I have to admit that, as much as I love all the traditional, in-theatre performances throughout the year, I look forward every spring to their annual fundraiser, Beer & Beethoven. And yes, it’s as awesome as it sounds.

Beer & Beethoven 2013
Not everyone can pull off Sou’Westers like we can!

If you’ve never been, it’s a night of amazing orchestral music, celebrity guests, games, raffles, auctions, delicious food, and plenty o’ beer. Serious good times are had by all.

This year’s event is coming up on May 9th. Interested in attending? Visit their website for information and tickets here.

Sometimes I think about the reasons why I volunteer. Each year I try to put time into “helping out” (whatever that means) once or twice a month with various causes to which I feel connected. It might make me seem like I’m being altruistic, but I’m not sure that I am. I’ve integrated volunteering into my life’s repertoire in such a way that I’m gaining far more than I’m contributing. Some of the reasons I’m into it are:

It’s social.

  • My volunteer experiences bring me into contact with plenty of different places and people. Seeing the same faces of folks who are also into the cause creates a great sense of connection. When I’m not feeling particularly chatty though, there’s always the opportunity to spend time with the kitties or pups. They don’t care much what you say, as long as you’re willing to play.

It’s community-building.

  • I’m making connections with like-minded folks. I’m oot-and-aboot experiencing what Halifax has to offer. I’m learning about all the interrelated organizations that offer similar or complementary services and products. There’s no better way to gain a sense of community than to immerse yourself in a helpful role within one.

It’s free.

  • If I was a bazillionaire, I’d like to think I’d give a good chunk of money to support everything I can. As it is, I can’t afford to do much more than a few dollars here and there. And, of course, the annual box of Girl Guide cookies (also self-serving).

It serves the causes I believe in.

  • I’m putting my figurative money where my mouth is. My literal money? See above.

There are sweet perks.

It makes a difference.

  • It does. I can’t read statistics about abandoned pets and not take action to help them. I can’t complain about the lack of Arts presence and then disregard all the artistic endeavours happening in my backyard. It’s not always a big contribution, but it’s something. More importantly, if more people gave this same attention (and trust me, it’s MINIMAL) to the causes that they happen to be passionate about- if we’re demonstrating support at the individual level- maybe it wouldn’t always be such a struggle to get funding, recognition, and support from the government and policy makers that have even more power to effect change.

Krista

8 thoughts on “My Selfish Altruism: Being a Volunteer

  1. There are no truly unselfish acts, but at least yours are awesome! πŸ˜€

    Good for you!

    I love volunteering. It’s good for my heart and soul and I wish it could be a full time job. πŸ™‚

    • Thanks. I kinda like that volunteering isn’t my full time job though. I think once it becomes required or a responsibility, it would start to feel like a chore. For now I enjoy being able to decide when and where to spend my volunteering time.

      • I’m not sure it would feel like a chore, especially if you continued to find interesting and meaningful outlets, kwim?

        I have a crazy dream of philanthropy! πŸ˜€

        All I need is an endless supply of money. I have en endless supply of causes.

        Halfway there! πŸ™‚

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