As a kid, every Sunday I remember sitting on a large concrete bench built around a tree in my backyard reading library books. Including me, there were almost 50 kids from our community. My father built a small library in our attic that was open on Sundays for children, and he would read books to the kids who came from poor and illiterate families. As a teacher, it was his way of giving back to his community. His happiness, love of literature, and feeling of satisfaction grew with the smiles of these children. He did not have money or time, but had the heart to distribute happiness!
We dedicate most of our lives to our profession, ambitions, and family, but sometimes lose the essence of life. At times, we complain about the imperfections in various systems around us. However, what we forget is that we have an opportunity to contribute to the world and make it a better place. In fact, a popular belief is that no one makes it through life entirely on their own without any help. If that were true, we should assume our responsibility to do our part to contribute and make a difference. The best part is that there are a lot of benefits to volunteering. Studies have proven that volunteering positively affects our physical and mental health, and contributes to the happiness effect of volunteering.
“Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on Earth.” – Muhammad Ali
What makes you happy?
Over the years, I have discovered several ways of contributing to my community, whether it is professionally, personally, or culturally. With my passion for teaching, every Sunday before social distancing, I volunteered my time to teach religion, principles, and values to a class of toddlers in our cultural community, giving me the opportunity of being part of the essential stage of a child’s development. When we can resume in-person classes, I know I’ll continue to find my happiness in addressing the curiosity of those little ones with countless questions, and participating in their giggles and laughter. When a parent gives me a hug and quotes something their child learned in a class, the happiness and sense of achievement I feel is priceless.
“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” – Mahatma Gandhi
As tax and accounting professionals working during COVID-19, we have been presented with a lot of opportunities to help businesses in need. For example, I have helped my affected friends, family, and community by providing financial advice. As part of our firm initiative, I have helped our current clients through cash flow management, as well as by providing assistance to apply for Loans.
No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted. If you do not have money, you may have time; if you don’t have either one, you have the heart to figure out a way to help, give back, volunteer, and in return, find your happiness.
Where do you start? How do you volunteer?
Fellow tax colleague Andrea Parness, CPA, CTC, recently wrote a wonderful article for the Intuit® Tax Pro Center that talks about the benefits of volunteering; as a complement to her article, here are eight ways you can volunteer in your community:
- Find your passion. Find a cause close to your heart. More than the work, the intention to volunteer matters the most. If you don’t know where to start, search online for local community resources to connect with a cause you are passionate about.
- Look within your personal and professional reach. A lot of organizations have their own community programs; for example, Intuit employees participate in the We Care & Give Back program. Some groups and communities also offer match programs for your favorite charitable institutions.
- Participate in food drives. Local grocery stores, churches, schools, and community centers often organize food drives. Participating in these events is as easy as just purchasing a few extra items during your next grocery run for donating.
- Reach out through school programs. If you are a parent, you may come across several opportunities to volunteer at school. You can participate by volunteering your time or simply donating money.
- Give away what you do not need. Items stored in your attic or garage may be useful to others more than they are to you. Books, toys, clothes, furniture, or anything you have not been using lately can be donated. Ask a friend or participate in a community garage sale to give away those items. There are also drop boxes made available by a lot of charitable organizations.
- Help virtually. Spreading knowledge has become very easy with the help of technology. You can contribute by writing blogs and articles, as well as sharing any information that is useful to others. There are a lot of support groups available on social media that provide moral and professional support.
- Make it a work thing. Corporations often have affiliations with nonprofits, and they participate in organizing charity run or fundraiser events. You can schedule a volunteer day along with your colleagues, and in that way, support charitable organizations.
- Make it a family project. I often take my kids to volunteer at a food bank. This is a great way to make a fun family tradition where you not only spend time together, but also influence your children and other family members in adopting volunteer habits.
If you just look around, you will find several ways to use your skillset and make a difference. In current times, the world needs advisors, tutors, mentors, counselors, donors, volunteers, and helpers. If you are donating your valuable time, it is important that you get your full worth in happiness and satisfaction. Find what you are passionate about and something you enjoy doing. Every little bit counts toward making the world a better place.
“We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.” – Mother Teresa