My first taste of volunteer work came when I was 12 years old. It was 1976, and McDonald’s restaurants were encouraging kids to host carnivals to raise funds for muscular dystrophy. Though I had little understanding of muscular dystrophy, I loved a backyard party. My philanthropic mother had planted a deep seed in me regarding helping others. “To whom much is given, much is expected” was our motto.
I received my carnival kit and recruited the neighborhood kids to help. We had a fortune teller, sno-cone table, games of chance and more, raising about $70. But the major payoff was that I fell in love with good causes.
Since then, I’ve volunteered as a swim buddy for kids with spina bifida and worked with various organizations that focus on environmental issues, homelessness, poverty and AIDS. These days, I volunteer weekly at a soup kitchen, washing dishes and passing out fruit (when we have enough) to the down-on-their-luck men and women who come inside for soup and community. I also chair an eco-committee at my kids’ school. And though it seems counter-intuitive — after all, I’m a busy mom of three — I find myself with more energy to tackle my other commitments.