Thirteen years ago, I signed up to be a volunteer at Arc Greater Mid Cities. I wanted to share my personal and professional experiences—the good and not so good. The good experiences to offer hope. The not so good, to share resources discovered on my journey. At times, it was a lonely path and there were many roadblocks along the way. Surely, I had something to offer others. And I did.
Little did I know that my family and I would also benefit from my volunteer work. But we did! Here are some of the many things we learned about:
- Community Organizing – There is strength in numbers. There is also strength in the various talents of a group. I might not be able to do everything, but I can do something.
- Community Resources – I learned so much about local, state, and national resources. In order to help others, I had to search and find resources I did not know about. I didn’t realize at the time what a benefit it would be to learn about these tools before I needed them.
- Disability History – It has been said, “Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it." I have no desire to repeat the past.
- Personal Growth – This information was specific to my situation—my life. Dinner and travel conversations with experts are priceless!
- Policy – I learned more about the way our government works. I learned how we can impact policymaking. Change does not happen without action. Disability rights is a civil rights movement. While progress has been made, our work is not done! We must stand up. We must speak out.
- Possibilities – Working alongside people with disabilities was eye-opening and empowering. Watching people accomplish what others thought impossible taught me to reach for the stars for my daughter. It taught me to presume competence. It also taught me to change the conversation. I no longer ask, “Can my daughter do that?” Instead, I consider and secure supports needed for her to do it.
- Relationships – Trust and friendships are formed when people work on a common goal. I found my peeps! It was these parents and professionals who share a vision for people with disabilities.
In short, I realized it was impossible to help others without helping myself and my family. Personal growth comes naturally when helping others grow. Who knew!
If you’re thinking of becoming a volunteer, I hope the benefits above will help you make your decision. Use the Services, Groups, and Events search to find ways to volunteering near you.