Time to get busy again? The value of volunteering…

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They say if you want something done, ask the busiest person you know. I’m not sure if I’m the busiest person you know, but I seem to have reversed my decision of last year… the one where I decided to step BACK from taking on extra curricular challenges. Hmmm.

I am loving (seriously freaking holy awesome) LOVING my day job; it is different every day, challenges me on many levels and is near infinite in its possibilities. I have grown kids who need me very little these days, and my youngest is about to graduate. I am single again, so have time on my hands too. That all adds up to energy to spare and a willingness to bite off a bigger chunk of challenge. Either that or it adds up to a whole big pile of crazy… maybe they’re the same thing?

I have found myself on a board. Or two. Or three, now I think about it. I am really excited about this, despite the fact that I am somehow chair of one board and co-chair of another. The co-chair job is already a big bucket of work but I’m really excited and eager to start moving forward. The other boards are low output, but engaging in different ways.

So why do I do this? Why do I take on excess work? I am trying to figure this out; is it out of boredom? Maybe… to a minor degree. I know some people take on board roles to pad their resumes, gain experience and exposure, “network & leverage connections”. I think I do it because I have too much electricity running through my body and too much work gives me a productive place to put it. I’m also a creative person with more big ideas than I can find places for without the kind of forum that volunteer work provides.

The funny thing is that I somehow manage to keep board work and volunteerism separate in my head, how weird is that? I consider time spent helping out at the Food Bank or serving lunch at a soup kitchen as volunteer work, but board work is its own category in my mind. However I categorize it, I’m glad I have opportunities to stretch my mind and work with such diverse groups through this kind of activity. And how cool to be part of SOMETHING BIGGER (that deserves capitals, no?).

Crazy. I seem to step back from boards every few years; in hindsight perhaps I do that only so I can catch a second wind and hit the ground running again, with increased capacity.

Hey… join a board… it’s rewarding! You’ll meet new people, experience new challenges, have exciting adventures, learn Roberts Rules of Order… And if you want, you can even network and leverage new connections (wink). But mostly you’ll do good work for a cause you believe in. There are many not for profit groups and organizations seeking committed, talented people.

Learn who needs the skills you have to offer by contacting Volunteer Yukon or offer to serve on one of the boards highlighted on the Government of Yukon’s Boards & Committees page. And if you’re reading this and you’re not in the Yukon then find a group wherever you are that needs all the special you-ness you have to share. You’ll be glad you did. Seriously!

Impossible Loss

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The community I live in and love has been struck hard by tragedy in the last month. Two young families have lost their Dads…quickly, shockingly, unfairly. The two families have 5 children between them, all 11 and younger.

The two men, both dedicated outdoors men were friends. They worked together, shared similar passions and lived their lives with enormous intensity and capacity for joy. They died 3 weeks apart, separately, in two completely unrelated tragedies.

Last night on my flight home from a visit to the big city I brushed up close to that pain. I sat with the sister in law of the most recently lost husband, father, friend, Daddy. Her heart was in pieces, visibly. She was lovely. She was so sad, so worried for her sister, her little niece and the shell shocked boys. Their father died trying to save them from a river; them and the son of the woman sitting next to me for 3 hours. I felt…still feel, gutted. I am grateful that I was there, able to help her with her own young daughter, be a new face, a new ear, a new mirror to look in to see who she is now.  As she told me the story, my heart broke again and again.  At one point, she said, there were six people in the river, all drowning. Half were there to save, half were being saved. All were at risk of being lost. Too few safety measures afforded by the resort they were visiting, so many people, so much crying and fear and screaming, so little anyone could do. And so, one Daddy died. One husband is gone. So many lives are forever changed.

I wasn’t there. I don’t know the family personally, though I feel so connected to them. I felt that connection even before meeting this woman who has so much to try and block from her memory, so much to move forward from. I felt that connection because I am a wife, I am a mother.   I feel that connection so much more now, having had the little girl with the saddest face I’ve ever seen sit on me, play with my phone and take sad photos of herself. This little girl has just lost her Daddy; she is 3.

The two families, linked by friendship and interest and passion and love of the outdoors are now linked by sorrow, loss and tragedy.  I am now, forever, linked to their story. I will never erase from my  heart the sight of this woman, this heartbroken sister, the aunt of these children in shock. She almost lost her own son and father to the river, lost instead her brother in law, her sister’s joy and her own sense of security in the world.

She said it was so awful. So horrible. So unbelievable. She has touched my life forever.

Yukon, we have two families who need us terribly right now. 5 children who will need all the support we can provide. Two mothers whose worlds have just been turned upside down, and who haven’t even begun to measure what lies ahead. I want to do something. I wish I could do something.