By Melinda Henry Oates
Service is very important to members of Birmingham Alumnae Panhellenic. As sorority women, we are used to participating in philanthropic service. During our collegiate days each of us were encouraged and expected to give back to the progress of mankind.
Each year as an organization we participate in the Salvation Army Angel Tree program. We encourage each of our alumnae chapters and associations to participate by donating a tax-deductible donation to the Birmingham Alumnae Panhellenic. We then go out and purchase items for little girls, as our hope is that one day the gifts that she received will make a difference in her life and she will grow up and become a Greek woman who has a heart for philanthropy herself.
When you give back, you are helping people with their future development, and you yourself will grow as a person when you are emotionally aware of all walks of life. You then see the importance of all philanthropic endeavors. It has also been proven that people who volunteer are healthier physically and mentally. There is no greater feeling of purpose then giving back and volunteering your time to contribute to make a better community and overall a better world in which to live in.
If we did not have volunteers, think of the things that would not ever get done in the middle of some of our worst disasters in this world. As we reflect and remember the height of volunteerism that we saw and experienced 18 years ago on September 11, 2001 when, for days and months after that day, you saw the impact that giving back can have. After a year or so, when things settled back to some sense of normalcy, we saw the surge of volunteerism begin to fade. We do not need to wait until there are tragedies in our own lives or in our community or even country to volunteer – it should be something that should be part of our moral compass and not be forced upon us by the circumstances around us.
If you are looking for ways to volunteer, one suggestion is to support what you are passionate about. Everyone has things that they are passionate about, and if you are passionate then you will enjoy your experience and you will stick with your volunteerism more than if you just volunteer to be doing it just to be doing it. Make sure that it fits your interests and abilities. There is no set amount of time each month that you are required to volunteer – just making that first contact and then making a hour a month is a great start. You will start making a difference in the lives of others and you will be happier and healthier for it.