Work without pay. Sounds terrible, doesn’t it? But that’s exactly what volunteers do every day- they serve others out of the abounding overflow of their heart. Over the years I have had the chance to work with fantastic people volunteering in many different areas of our community and addresses varying needs. Local churches, Greenhill Humane Society (who currently needs supplies, by the way), Cascade Raptor Center, Lane County Search and Rescue, Food for Lane County, the Eugene Mission – just a few of the places I have found exceptional Eugene volunteers in action. Whenever any student asks me about building their resume, I always encourage volunteering. It shows dedication. It shows humility. It proves you are willing to help out your community.
One thing I’ve never seen go out of style is the need for able-bodied volunteers, enthusiastic to help achieve a goal. So what goals do you have? For me, coming to this conference was one of my goals for this year. How did I achieve it? I volunteered to help! This game development conference is, in large part, run by around 400 volunteers. 400 volunteers chosen from a pool of over a thousand applicants chosen to help assist 50,000 attendees in enjoying their experience here over the a week.
There’s something extra special about these 400 volunteers, however. Not only are they the largest group of volunteers I’ve worked with, but they are perhaps some of the most dedicated people I’ve met in a long time. The CAs (conference associates) as their called, insist that they aren’t just a group of 400 people meeting for this one week to put in their time in exchange for free access to a conference, but they say they are a family. I’m not going to lie; I was a bit skeptical at first. I have a great family, and we have enough trouble getting along without the stresses of travel, jet-lag, and long hours standing. But, 400? How can you possibly have a family that large? It just can’t be so.
The CAs have shown me otherwise. Everyone here gives it their all, and then a bit more. If you walk into the volunteer lounge, you will see hundreds of smiling faces all laughing with each other and acting like they’ve been best friends for life. Walk along the road and you’ll see more – all happy to introduce themselves, invite you to join them, and aid you in whatever way they can to make your experience more satisfying.
I think it is that positive attitude, the genuine patience, and the instant comradely that the world has lost of late. The days of knowing who your neighbor is (and caring) seem to be fading, the thought of spending time to work for free can sound shocking – but yet these 400 people, with a single common interest, do just that and pull together to create something amazing, something impossible to achieve if they weren’t working together. If you haven’t done so already, I encourage you, join the ranks of the volunteers. Whether you do it locally, nationally, or globally: make a difference. You’ll be glad you did, and so will the people around you.
Reader Question Time!
What is the coolest volunteer opportunity you’ve participated in?
— Katie van Meter