April is National Volunteer Month.
In celebration, the MCC Daily Tribune is featuring the individual answers of more than 20 faculty and staff members to the question:
“ Why Do I Volunteer?”
by Anne J. Perry, Academic Services and volunteer, Rochester Area Interfaith Hospitality Network
Volunteering provides several benefits to the individual doing the volunteering. It’s an outlet for your talents. It’s a way to meet other volunteers who share your values. And, on top of that, you get to feel good about giving back to the community. Even those of us who lead very busy lives can usually find a few hours a month to volunteer or we can creatively find ways to incorporate volunteering into our family time.
Homelessness is a terrible thing to happen to anyone. But it’s even worse when families must be split up because of homeless shelter rules about mixing people of different ages and genders. The Rochester Area Interfaith Hospitality Network is unique in that it is specifically for families, such as the single mother with a teenage son and two young daughters or the married couple with children of various ages. While there is a day center in a fixed location where the guests get help with housing, employment and the like, the rest of the time is spent in a series of churches and synagogues, one week at a time. Volunteers at these sites provide hospitality, meals, rooms and the other necessities during the week. Families come and spend the evenings . . . the adults conversing, the children playing games. Others prepare, serve and share the evening meal. There’s a sense of community between the volunteers and guests for that week. My role when they come to the First Unitarian Church of Rochester is to provide the seasonal, appealing and healthy menus for the week that our volunteers then prepare. I personally always take the first night when I serve thanksgiving dinner. Almost everyone likes turkey and all the trimmings and it gives me a chance to tell the guests both verbally and with the food itself that we are thankful they are spending this week with us.
Anne J. Perry