Volunteer While You’re Young

Kerri Aidikoff
Live Up Programs, San Diego

“Giving my time back to a cause as grand as what LiveUp aspires to accomplish was an unbelievable experience. Each time I’ve explained the weekend I found myself getting overwhelmed with genuine happiness thinking about the awesome things that happened this weekend. I did learn that I am actually capable of helping another human — this was life changing”- Brandon Ward, LiveUp Mentor, 2015

Volunteer while you’re young. During the most self centered time of life it becomes ever more important to give back. Before you start a family and the only person you’re responsible for is yourself, leverage this bandwidth to volunteer. Volunteer not for getting ahead but for the sole purpose that you can.

Volunteer for a cause that allows you to interact directly with someone who got dealt a different hand of cards in life than you. Be empathetic as your hear about her struggles and more importantly be inspired as you hear about her accomplishments. Be grateful as you consider what you take for granted each day in your life.

Feel your heart race as you push yourself out of your comfort zone and into a situation that may be unfamiliar. Embrace the uncertainty in those first few moments when you are unsure of what to say or how to act. Watch your perceptions change as the stereotypes that you had created in your mind are replaced by a new reality. Apply this to other areas of your life — by not allowing bias to dictate what you perceive to be reality.

Feel your worth, as you realize that your presence, not a material good, is able to have a direct impact on someone else. Learn things about yourself. Rediscover how to be patient. Enjoy moving at a little bit of a slower pace. Begin to value interdependence — how another human being may benefit from your help and need your support.

Stop taking yourself so seriously. Specifically, volunteering at LiveUp, take part in a dance party or sing your heart out at karaoke. Put the “big crisis” at work out of your mind and reevaluate what you’re currently prioritizing in you life. Find hope that we are all pursuing the same dreams of independence, acceptance and wellbeing. Most importantly be yourself and feel liberated by knowing that you are surrounded by a group who isn’t judging your every move.

Bond with the other volunteers. You are part of a self-selected community of people who have chosen to spend their precious free time volunteering. Find out what drives them to volunteer. Maybe even stop swiping on your dating app and make a real life connection.

Become an advocate. Take your experience and carry it with you. Let it guide future decisions and set a precedent. Tell your friends and family about your experience. Bask in the magic of being part of an organization that is a community — something larger than your own self. Be humbled to be part of this community. Begin to wrap your mind around the irony that an experience that was intended for you to give has instead given you so much.

So are you ready for life changing? Volunteer while you’re young.

Fore more information about volunteering at LiveUp check out www.liveupprograms.org, other resources for finding local opportunities: www.idealist.org; www.volunteermatch.org; www.catchafire.org

Kerri Aidikoff

Written by

Director @ LiveUp Programs

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