Why I am “just” a Volunteer

Why I am "just" a VOLUNTEERGive me a       V……. V!

Give me an     O…….O!

Give me a       L …….L!

Give me a       S …….S!

What you got?           VOLS?

Say it again!               VOLS!!

LOUDER!!                   VOLS!!!

How many times did I chant that as I was a student at the University of Tennessee? A Gazillion. And it still gives me goose bumps. This is Matthew’s favorite cheer because he “cannot even begin to spell Tennessee!”

I say it is great to be a Tennessee Vol!

I became a Tennessee Volunteer when I started my freshman year in 1995. I became an Elementary Volunteer several years later when my kids started Kindergarten.

I admit at first it was because I couldn’t let go of them. Just being in their school helped me feel closer because I just missed the little boogers. Very quickly it turned into so much more.

Here are the top 6 reasons, I volunteer at my kids’ school:

  1. The schools need us. I am fortunate to be part of a wonderful, top-notch school system. Still…I get overwhelmed with my three kids…and I only have them for a few hours before bed. Why would I not expect a teacher with 20 or so kids all day need some help from time to time?
  1. Volunteering gives me an outlet to express one of my primary Love Languages: Acts of Service. I absolutely love to help people. And if I can reciprocate to those who devote their life to helping my children…I am in Heaven. What a blessing to be able to do!
  1. I get to know the teachers and staff at the kids’ school. These wonderful people spend more of my kids’ waking hours with them than I do! I want to be acquainted with them. I want them to know they can count on me to partner with them to help make the kids’ education the best that it can be. Or they can just count on me to spoil them with snacks when they have a long, hard day 😉
  1. I meet the kids’ new friends that I heard so much about at the dinner table. With school and after school activities, play dates are quickly becoming a thing of the past. How else can I meet Sally or Johnny?
  1. And just as important, I got to know their mamas. I have kindled new friendships while at the same time getting to know the parents who will be spending a great deal of time with my kids for years to come. If your kids are going over to someone’s house, you want to feel comfortable with the parents!
  1. For now…and who knows how long it will last…they want me there. I am absolutely savoring every moment. They are excited when I get to pop into the cafeteria or they bump into me in the library. Sometimes I get a sly, “I’m trying to be cool” smile and sometimes I am almost knocked down with a bear hug. All the time, though, it is a blessing. I got to read to Ethan’s 3rd grade class on Friday. They hung on every word as I read “The Wizard of Oz.” How many more opportunities will I have to do this? Not many. Savoring. Every. One.

I know volunteering in our children’s school isn’t something that everyone is able to or even may want to do. And that is okay. We need to recognize that we all have different circumstances, abilities and desires. Every one of us serves our own very important role in our children’s lives. We need strong, Christian women in the classrooms teaching our kids. We need strong, Christian women in the boardroom being a positive influence in Corporate America. We need strong, Christian women taking care of us in the doctor’s offices. These are women that my daughter can look up to and say, “I can be a CEO or a doctor if I work hard because I see Joy’s mama did it!”

I had a hard time when I was faced with the decision about continuing to teach or taking time off so that I could focus on my family and writing. I struggled with whether it was ok for me to quit working and “just volunteer.” The bottom line was that God put the desire in my heart and the circumstances that allowed me to volunteer…to serve in my children’s school. And there is nothing “just” about that.

I said, “It’s great to be an Elementary Vol!!”

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