But people around us are suffering – and there is so much that we can do to help! We each have the power of our kindness, our ability to listen, our hands to help, our knowledge and experience to teach, our time and energy and attention – that can make a difference in peoples’ lives today. Use your power!
You can bring the power of your heart to the interactions of daily life: take the time to listen deeply (and without offering advice!) to a friend, co-worker or family member; share a smile and a kind word in your casual interactions; reach out when you see someone in distress; be generous with hugs when appropriate – and send loving kindness when it is not. Though these things may seem small, they can ripple out and multiply in profound ways that we may never know.
But you can also offer concrete help to those who are the most vulnerable – who are struggling mightily due to factors beyond their control. Every community has organizations striving to support such people, to provide the care and resources they need to be safe, healthy, and productive. These organizations rely on volunteers – people like you who care about others and want to make a difference. They need many different types of help and welcome many different levels of commitment. If you can offer even a few hours a month to help others, pick an organization and volunteer!
Below are examples of organizations making a difference in the lives of real people in Williamsburg, Virginia. Most communities have comparable organizations; if you see a cause or activity that resonates with you, a simple internet search should turn up something similar in your area.
Avalon: Avalon Center works to end domestic and sexual violence by breaking the cycle of abuse through prevention, education, shelter and support services. They rely on many types of volunteers for everything from administrative support, to childcare, to Court and shelter advocates.
Dreamcatchers: Improves the quality of life for individuals with physical, emotional and developmental needs by providing evidence-based therapeutic riding, equine assisted activities and advancing effective practices through professional education and research. Volunteers are needed to help with lessons, maintain the facilities, and provide office support. https://dreamcatchers.org/volunteer
FISH, Inc: An all-volunteer not-for-profit agency providing help – including food, clothing, and small housewares – to needy residents of the greater Williamsburg area. They need volunteers for client assistance, clothing sorting and stocking, and food delivery and shelving. https://williamsburgfish.weebly.com/
Virginia Peninsula Foodbank: Providing food to the 1 in 7 Virginians who struggle with hunger on the Virginia Peninsula. They need volunteers for a variety of sorting, stocking, packing and transporting food, as well as assistance at off-site community outreach programs. http://hrfoodbank.org/volunteer/
Hospice House & Support Care of Williamsburg: More than 50 Patient Volunteers work directly with Hospice House guests, home patients and their families. An additional 300 volunteers form the Hospice House Guild, doing everything from gardening and maintenance in and around Hospice House, delivering equipment to needy families, office support, cooking and baking, hosting receptions and memorial services, delivering brochures, helping with bulk mailings and attending community fairs. https://williamsburghospice.org/volunteers/overview/
Literacy for Life: Provides a range of adult basic education, language, and employment education programs for those who lack literacy and/or English language skills. Volunteers are the lifeblood of the program, providing tutoring, as well as help with special events, fundraising, and administrative support. http://www.literacyforlife.org/tutors/
Williamsburg Area Meals on Wheels: provides a nutritious meal, a friendly visit, and a safety check to area seniors in need. They rely on volunteers for meal delivery, office support, and working on special events. http://www.wmbgmealsonwheels.com/donate
If your heart aches for those who are suffering – don’t sit on the sidelines any longer. Just because we can’t fix the big problems doesn’t mean that we can’t make a real difference in someone’s life. True caring happens one-on-one – and these relationships can (and must) be part of the systemic change that is so desperately needed.
Finally, make no mistake – reaching out with our own hands, heart, and energy enriches our own lives immeasurably. It is truly a gift to ourselves when we embrace our power to help.
Want to connect with others who are committed to Compassion? Join our Facebook group at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/BeginWithMeCommunity/