Volunteering: Why you should make time to give back

Mandy Thomas picTime is something of which I never seem to have enough. Our family is busy. Like so many families today, my husband and I both work long hours in full-time jobs. We are blessed with two terrific young daughters, a dog, a house, a yard, lots of extended family, and an active church. We always seem to have someplace we’re supposed to be. We use an online family calendar and schedule ourselves in tight. So, what I don’t have a whole lot of to spare, is time.

And yet, a few years ago God put it on my heart to open my eyes and look around. Why was I given all these gifts? A warm home, money in my pocket, shoes on my feet. Did He give me these things only for me to enjoy? Am I working so hard just for us? Is this as good as it gets? Or is there a greater purpose? A greater meaning to our trips around the sun than to glorify our own intellect, our own bank accounts, our own lives?

That’s when I decided to start giving back in a more determined way. Enter South Hills Interfaith Movement (SHIM). SHIM serves others. SHIM sees those people who don’t have a warm home, money in their pocket, shoes on their feet, and gives them the chance to reach resources that can help them. SHIM serves the poorest among us, and among us they are. In the beautiful suburban South Hills of Pittsburgh, there are children going to bed hungry every night.

Once you see it, you can’t un-see it. SHIM serves the least of these and provides a way for me to be the hands and feet of God. Because the truth is I was not given these gifts to enjoy for myself in my safe bubble. I know, in my heart and mind, that I was given these gifts to serve God and to serve others.

And so I find the time. We schedule the time to empty the food collection boxes in our church to deliver to SHIM. We schedule the time to volunteer to spend time mentoring refugee youth. We schedule the time for me to spend in a SHIM Board meeting, putting my business talents to work in helping steer the good work of SHIM. Just like we find time to brush our teeth and do homework, our family finds the time to give back.

It’s not easy but there are so many ways you can fit volunteering into your lifestyle.

  • Make it a family affair. Teach your children about the importance of giving back while spending quality time as a family.
  • Explore your options. There are many ways you can become involved with your community, find one that speaks to your interests and skills that you will enjoy doing.
  • Make a list of volunteer activities that do not require a commitment. When you have a free day, volunteer. Giving back doesn’t have to be another full-time job.
  • Ask your company about their volunteer policy. Lots of companies will give you time to volunteer during the work week, do some research and find out if your company is one of them.

I invite you to join me in finding the time in your incredibly busy schedules to give back by volunteering. There is enough in the world to share with all, and our community needs us. If you can share money, share that. But I urge you to join the movement and share your time. You will not regret it, I promise.

By Mandy Thomas, Segment Sales Engineer – Reservoir Evaluation Wireline, Schlumberger; SHIM Board Member