By Misty L. Harris
As a teen, I never understood the concept of working for free. That was unfathomable until I reached my junior/senior year of high school and realized that as a requirement for graduation I had to complete a certain amount of volunteer hours. Honestly, this bummed me out!
I volunteered at a daycare center for children of parents suffering from alcohol disease. However, there was no fulfillment. At that time, there was no connection to what that meant. Years later, after a friend died of cancer in her early twenties, I felt compelled to get involved. Every day on my way home from work, I would pass by Gilda’s Club and think “I’m going to go in there one day and ask to help.” (this happened for a solid year). Until one day I did. I filled out the online application, went to the new volunteer seminar and started volunteering whenever I could and whenever they needed a hand. After months of interacting with the community, I felt like I was a part of something that mattered, giving back truly felt great. I didn’t need praise or recognition. I was fulfilled! This was definitely NOT work.
I asked a few WNED staffers to share their volunteering experience with me. Check out these responses!
“Since my dog, Sammy, is a rescue, he’s inspired me to help homeless dogs that aren’t as fortunate. I’m a volunteer at the City of Buffalo Animal Shelter, where I help with their marketing efforts, events and walk the dogs. Sammy also serves as a therapy dog through the SPCA Paws for Love pet visitation program. We’ve gone to nursing homes, senior groups, etc. and have visited with the residents to help brighten their day. This was inspired by my grandmother, who absolutely loved visits from Sammy while she lived in a nursing home in Syracuse.” - Megan Wagner
“I’ve been a certified docent at the Frank Lloyd Wright Darwin D. Martin House Complex since 2000. Returning to my hometown of Buffalo in 1998 after 16 years in Ohio made me “rediscover” and appreciate Buffalo as I never did growing up. I’d always had an interest in Buffalo history and architecture, but when I saw the Ken Burns’ PBS special on Frank Lloyd Wright, I gained a stronger awareness of the significance of Buffalo’s architectural treasures. Then I learned about the restoration efforts at the house and knew I wanted to get involved. I enjoy being some small part of this rare Buffalo success story.” - Suzanne Kashuba
“I volunteer for the WNY Peace Center. When I moved to the region, I was looking for a group that promoted social justice issues, and found the Peace Center. Now I serve on their media committee, and I handle their Twitter feed.” - Martina Fern
Are you looking to get involved? Don’t think too long about it. Just do it! It may or may not be fun, but it will definitely be fulfilling. Do something that’s close to your heart. Maybe try something that is the complete opposite of what you do as a career! Be adventurous. For starters, check out the WNED Volunteer page! We are always looking for people to help with our pledge events and station activities! Our volunteers are awesome and we considered them apart of the WNED family. Join us!