A brief note on volunteerism, democracy, and privilege

Image says: “Volunteering is the ultimate act in democracy. You vote in elections once a year but when you volunteer, you vote every day about the kind of community you want to live in.” —Anonymous

Volunteering is a privilege. Not everyone can afford to spend their time working without financial compensation. Not everyone has time to give outside of work and family responsibilities. Not everyone has access to transportation to a volunteer site or can work during the hours that are offered. Not everyone [fill in the blank because there are so many reasons].

When people volunteer, whether they know it or not, they are making a statement about the type of local, national, and global community they desire. Volunteering is a way to transform wishes into actions.

Those of us with the privilege to vote with our time should think carefully about the kind of community we want to live in.

For example, I volunteer as a knitting group facilitator because I believe there is power in making something with my own hands. I want people to have the opportunity to learn new skills, create things that are useful, and connect with other life-long learners.

I also volunteer to review photographs and tag the ones that include whales so scientists can track whale populations. I believe scientific research is critical to understanding climate change and planning for our future.

In the past, I have volunteered at a food bank because no one should be hungry. I believe it’s on us to take care of one another.

These are a few volunteer roles that speak to the kind of world I want to be part of. It’s certainly not an exhaustive list, but does show a sample of my values. It’s how I choose to spend some of my free time because I have the privilege of doing so.


If you volunteer, how is it contributing to creating the community you want?

If you don’t volunteer, but would like to, what values would you like to contribute toward in your community?

P.S. I previously published this post over on Medium, but I’m experimenting with different blog options. Let me know if you have thoughts. 

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