One of the reasons I got involved with charities and volunteering is because it’s a choice.
Memories were triggered for me today….
Once upon a time in college I did a lot of work with severe and profoundly handicapped children, affected mentally, physically and developmentally. The forgotten ones in our world, the ones who are often wards of the state, whose families have abandoned them because they can’t take the pain or because their medical need for care is too great.
One of the medical facilities I volunteered in had designations on every bedroom door as to whether or not to resuscitate or try to save the young life that lived within. We walked into those rooms each time knowing that the child we worked with today might not be there tomorrow. And though we were officially there to help with physical and educational therapies, most of us knew we were also there to hopefully make a difference and help make the quality of life for one young living being a little better.
I thought for a time that I would go into that profession as a music therapist.
And then I watched nurses and professional after professional working with these kids, their pro hearts grown hard and cold. Because it’s too painful to get too close and they had a job to do. They couldn’t afford to break down. And so many no longer responded to the cries of the children when they were scared or in pain and there was little comfort from their caretakers. It’s not that they were mean or anything, or that they provided less than excellent care. It’s just that they had lost their ability to be soft inside. There were only a handful of professionals who seemed to have held on to their compassion. And it was far too few.
After witnessing it again and again, I finally realized that I couldn’t do the work I was doing as a means to feed myself in life. I did not want to take a chance of becoming hardened and cold because years of a broken heart made me so and because it was my job. I didn’t want to have to make ends meet in life this way.
So I chose a different path, the one of a volunteer.
As a volunteer, I know I can walk away at any time. I generally haven’t been paid even when I organize events. But I *choose* to be there. I have no other reason or motivation to be there other than to serve. My next meal does not depend on the volunteer work I do. And though my heart may be broken again and again in service, and I may receive little thanks, my compassion remains intact.
It is often a path of tears, but it is also one of heart.