Volunteering: Equal parts giving, receiving

Posted: Tuesday, September 10, 2002

While volunteering may be the epitome of giving, it also is a great way to get something back. As you help a group or individual in the Kenai Peninsula community, you may find that in a way you, too, are getting something out of the exchange.

Winston Churchill once said, "We make a living by what we do, but we make a life by what we give."

Volunteering is an opportunity to learn new skills, meet new people and achieve personal goals, said Evy Gebhardt, executive director of Kenai Peninsula United Way.

In a sense, it is a way to become the person you've always wanted to be. It can create a sense of pride through facilitating change in an individual's life.

"We all have gifts. We all have something to contribute. Volunteering is one thing you can give without strings attached," Gebhardt said.

Simply holding the hand of an Alzheimer patient, playing checkers with a senior citizen, reading to a child or helping a grieving family through the death of a loved one can help all parties in ways that blur the line between givers and receivers.

"You can't find it any other place as far as the satisfaction," Gebhardt said of the sense of fulfillment people can get after giving as a volunteer.

Age, gender, ethnicity or income have little to do with one's ability to volunteer. Philanthropists may be able to give money, but volunteers give their time.

Volunteers are not paid. That doesn't mean they are worthless; to the organizations they serve, they are priceless.

Many organizations simply would not function without the time and energy of volunteers. That is why the Peninsula Clarion and other area sponsors have joined with the United Way of the Kenai Peninsula to create this special section. It is intended to both honor volunteers who have given themselves to different groups and inspire others to follow in their footsteps.

The United Way was chosen in an attempt to focus efforts and give due attention to agencies around the peninsula. Keep in mind though, there are other groups and organizations on the peninsula that would welcome your time.

So, reach out -- volunteer.

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