April 6 – 12 is National Volunteer Week and millions of Americans can be proud of the work they have done this year and the difference they have made in their communities.
In his National Volunteer Week Proclamation, President Obama said, “Through countless acts of kindness, generosity, and service, Americans recognize that we are all bound together—that we move this country forward by giving of ourselves to others and caring for those around us. Every day, Americans carry forward the tradition of service embedded in our character as a people.”
And we carry this tradition forward in impressive numbers. According to the Corporation for National and Community Service, some 64.5 million Americans volunteered this year in diverse sectors of society, including churches, health care, education, sports, and social services.
The essence of volunteering is caring—and translating that care into action. I believe the impulse to help is one of the most important aspects of living.
But does the volunteer get anything in return?
As Humanitarian Program Director of the Church of Scientology International, from the countless stories I have heard from our volunteers, the answer is resoundingly yes.
One person can make all the difference.
Four years ago I had the opportunity to talk to many Scientology Volunteer Ministers as they returned from Haiti. Our Church had sponsored a series of flights to bring medical professionals to the country. Their skill was urgently needed to save lives of the victims of the 2010 earthquake. We also sent a corps of Scientology Volunteer Ministers to provide support for the doctors, nurses and emergency medical technicians, making it possible for them to concentrate solely on their work.
The conditions in which Haiti first responders lived were harsh to say the least—many of them lived in tents on the runway of the Port-au-Prince airport. Food? Very little. Sleep? Even less. But morale? Incredibly high.
Our Volunteer Ministers took on any job that was needed. Doctors couldn’t find the equipment to care for injuries or perform vital surgeries, so the volunteers organized the mounds of medical supplies they needed. They assisted in operating rooms. They ran the stretchers of airlifted victims from the helicopters to the University of Miami hospital tent. One, a midwife, delivered babies at the Port-au-Prince hospital. They fed and bathed patients and helped them with Scientology assists—processes that help speed healing and relieve stress and trauma.
One for one, every volunteer I spoke with said the experience completely changed their lives. It put what they now described as their own “petty problems” into perspective. Nearly every one of them told me they had never felt prouder.
Scientologists volunteer more than 28 million hours a year and without them our Church would never be able to accomplish our humanitarian objectives.
All of us have issues that are important to us. But some probably feel that their own problems or the ills they see in society are so great that nothing can be done about it.
This is not true. One person can make all the difference.
I see that difference in the letters of thanks that pour in from parents, educators and ministers for the work of our human rights and drug education volunteers; in the testimonials of students who have decided to take a stand against bullying in their school; in the pledges of youth who have decided to live drug-free.
Our humanitarian programs contain simple materials anyone can learn and use to help in the field of human rights education, morality, literacy, and drug education. They are designed to make it easy for volunteers of any religion, culture or creed to use them. And our Volunteer Ministers program offers free online training to help deal with the most basic challenges of life, from improving relationships to bettering communication skills and resolving conflicts.
If you are not volunteering, I invite you to do so. If you are, I invite you to learn about our humanitarian programs as they contain technology to help you accomplish your own volunteering goals.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and are not necessarily those of World Religion News.
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