Volunteer vs Service
By: Anita Kelly Grant
Epsilon Lambda, University of Texas-Arlington
Today was our first day of work for Alpha Chi Omega’s Global Service Initiative. While eating breakfast, our host, Kaye, asked us to reflect on the meaning of service versus volunteering. As I worked alongside my sisters, my mind continued to wander back to this question. And I must say that throughout the day, I saw many examples that illustrated just what volunteering and service truly mean.
We started our day by meeting with Beth, the volunteer coordinator of Response Inc. Response Inc. is a community organization dedicated to preventing and helping people overcome sexual abuse, domestic violence, and other forms of abuse and exploitation. Response Inc. provides outreach, advocacy, education and supportive services to its clients and the community.
Beth gave use a tour of the facility while explaining the day-to-day functions of the organization. I was humbled and intrigued by the support they provide to such a large service area and how dedicated the staff was in carrying out their mission. I felt honored to be with my sisters who were as passionate and eager as I was to help.
At the facility, we identified so many areas that needed our attention – there was no shortage of things to do! We split into two groups and we went to work; one group cleaned inside the house and the other group worked on the outside. It was a hot and humid day, but no one seemed to mind. We were engrossed in our hard work and the energy and enthusiasm was contagious. The day went by quickly and we returned to our home base, tired and spent, but with a huge sense of accomplishment.
It has only been day one of this Global Service Initiative, but I am truly looking forward to tomorrow and to spending more time working with my sisters. I am proud to be a part of such a selfless group that understands the meaning of teamwork and altruism. To give of your time, talent and treasure to a greater cause that benefits others is such a rewarding experience. It is the true spirit of volunteer service and it personifies what it means to be an Alpha Chi – to spread the light of love and friendship.
So back to Kaye’s question: what is the difference between volunteering and service? For me, I see them as a continuum. We volunteer because we identify with a cause we feel is worthy of our time and energy. As we see the positive impact that our actions have on the community, our desire to serve becomes a calling for something much greater. It is this sense of kinship and connection with those who share our passion that drives us and gives us hope that our actions will incite others to give back as well. When people give of themselves to meaningful causes, they are investing in the kind of community and world in which they want to live.