Monday, July 11, 2011

A Helping Hand

As the recession lingers on for many of us, it's easy to find ourselves wrapped in a cocoon of worry and despair. We feel helpless. We feel hopeless. We don't know what to do or where to turn. It's when we are in these lowest moments that it is even more important to reach out to others, to look outside of ourselves.

I was out of work for almost a year. About two months into my unemployment, I started to get depressed. I was at home alone all of the time, looking for work and wondering what would happen to me if I didn't find work. It was too much. With no husband, boyfriend, children or even roommate, I was alone all of the time. I got a good idea of what solitary confinement might be like and I didn't like it!

One night, I called a good friend in tears. She told me what I already knew ... I had to get out. But where and how? I had tons of time and no money. She suggested I volunteer. I found an organization and it literally changed everything.

Ironically, I worked with a local job readiness training program. It put me in touch with people. It gave me a reason to get up in the morning. It allowed me to do something I truly love (training). Most importantly, I met people who had similar struggles to mine ... and I met people who were a lot worse off. It gave me a much-needed sense of perspective. It also gave me a sense of pride because I was able to do something for these people. I looked forward to seeing them everyday and I know that many of them looked forward to seeing me.

I was struggling and could barely do for myself but here, it was different. I could make a difference. While I looked for work, I helped others find and keep work. I helped them develop their skills. I helped them see things in themselves they had never considered. I loved it.

A client even recommended that I apply for an open position at her old company. I did and I got it. So volunteering helped me find my current job!

As I approach the one year anniversary on my job, I still keep in touch with the people I volunteered with and I volunteer and visit when I can. I'm hooked. I think Jacob's Ladder will always play a role in my life. It's that important.

If you want to volunteer, there are many organizations that could use your help: schools, churches, community centers. If you don't know where to go or what you want to do, start here: You can find organizations in your area and based on your interest.

Be the change you want to see. : )

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