Hands on Charlotte Celebrates National Volunteer Week

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HOC

First off, volunteers, here are the party details:

Dear Hands on Charlotte Volunteer:

Join Hands On Charlotte during National Volunteer Week 2011 as each day we highlight how we SERVE our community in so many important ways, as we CELEBRATE outstanding volunteers who are making an impact, and as we explain how your SUPPORT is necessary to keep HOC's programs strong and effective. Please be sure to visit our website for more details all week long!

Please join us this Thursday, April 14 as we CELEBRATE you at BlackFinn from 5 to 7:30 p.m. Remember, everyone in attendance will be entered to win one of three US Airways giftcards each worth $250.

Now, let me tell you a little something about volunteering for Hands on Charlotte: I first became aware of the organization when I wrote about their volunteer push for this year's 20th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s Week of Service. Soon afterward, I signed up to be a volunteer. That means I also signed up for the group's orientation, which I didn't particularly want to go to. But, I did ... as soon as I found the office. (It's like finding Harry Potter's train, so here's a hint: It's on the second floor of the Wachovia/Wells Fargo bank branch in Plaza-Midwood.)

I have to tell you, the orientation was worth every minute. I don't want to spoil the lesson, but to sum up: We're all needed. Every single one of us is needed by some one or some organization in this community. With a little time every month, we can make a positive, measurable difference. I love that lesson, in large part because I already believed it to be true.

Within the week, I signed up to volunteer through Hands on Charlotte for CPCC's adult literacy program ... and I've been signing up every month since. I wish I could go more, but most months I end up volunteering two or three times for about an hour and a half each time. Before I started, I thought I'd miss the time, but I don't. Let's be real, I probably would have spent it on the couch in front of the TV. I don't miss that.

The first time I volunteered, I wasn't sure what to expect or who I would tutor — or if I'd be any good at tutoring people; I'm an impatient creative type, not a teacher, after all. What I found, to my delight, was a room full of highly dedicated adults working diligently toward their goals. I also found that tutoring isn't so hard; it's less like teaching and more like helping someone with their homework. Plus, we laugh a lot and talk a little, finding common ground to stand on.

The hour and a half flies by and, I'll admit, sometimes it's difficult to tell if I've made a difference. I hope I do — though what I know for sure is that the students make a huge impact on me. Seriously. Want to be motivated to reach beyond your boundaries and push yourself to success? Go meet one of CPCC's adult GED students; they are amazing individuals struggling — happily — against the odds, making real progress.

And, while I'm sure HOC's organizers would love to have you, if you find another organization you'd prefer to volunteer with, I'm also sure they would encourage you to volunteer there. The point is to get involved, to be a little selfless and to give others a boost for the betterment of the community.

In this time of constant uncertainty, I believe you'll find that volunteering is one way to help make the world feel like a better place. All it will cost you is a little time. All you'll earn in return is a grounding sense of community and that warm feeling you get when you realize you've done something good for no reason other than to be a considerate human. Careful: That warm fuzzy is addictive.

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