Addicted to Volunteering

 “Volunteering is the ultimate exercise 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.”



Well put “unknown” person whoever you are.  I have wondered this for a few years now; why aren’t there more people (specifically the younger generations) volunteering in our communities?  Each event we are involved in I look around and we are usually the youngest by quite a few years.  Why?  We are all busy, that’s life.  We have two young boys, a new growing business and still find time.   I’ll admit, Sam and I are probably more involved than the average citizen, but we wouldn’t give it up for anything.  We are living our lives as an example to our boys.  Our oldest, age 6, already cannot wait to volunteer, simply from watching us over the years.  We are feeding their souls, what better way than showing them others come first. 


So, why is it like pulling teeth to get people to volunteer?  Yes, most of my volunteering is on the city level, but it seems to be a problem everywhere.  Are our schedules that busy?  Do we not want to put forth the time if it doesn’t directly affect us?  Do we need something in return for everything?  Or my favorite, are the ridiculous excuses from people of why they cannot volunteer.  You can hear the guilt in their voice as they continue to tell you about their recent bowel issues….very serious, this happens.  The way I see it, if I have effected one persons’ life from volunteering, that makes it worth doing.  I asked a few people why they do or do not volunteer.  A good friend put it perfectly “It is our mission in life, to serve others.” Beautiful.


I’ll admit, it can be a difficult habit to start.  However, if you are going to have an addiction, let it be volunteering: an addiction to helping others.  Truthfully, I started volunteering because I kept getting signed up for things by other people.  “Oh Natalie can do that” or the classic from Sam “Oh yeah, didn’t I tell you….”.  What you will eventually come to realize is none of it is about you.  We all work together as a team to build and support our community, for each other and for future generations.  Just this week I have joined two new organizations as a volunteer.  Even if I can only devote one hour a month to each of those, I feel I can help make a difference. 


Volunteering is what brings us together as a community.  I am constantly meeting new people and making new connections, on both a personal and business level.  The people we work with are amazing and I consider myself blessed to be working beside them.  Who wouldn’t want to be part of a group of people whose main goal is to put a smile on someone’s face? 


I joined my first committee through our Chamber years ago for one event.  Ducktona500, yes, that’s the name look it up Sheboygan Falls, WI.  Committees are not for everyone, trust me, I get that.  “A camel is a horse made by a committee” is one opinion of someone I know who has served a lot of time on committees.  Sadly, I will say, night meetings are tough for both me and my husband.  Mornings, afternoons, anytime, any day!  With two young kids, homework, dinner and bedtime schedules need to stay structured.  We have a routine and trust me, all hell breaks loose when that changes. It’s “Happy-happy fun time we get a sitter” then we the parents pay for it in the next day.   


Perhaps it is all about timing in your life.  Working full time, a single parent, a sick parent or child to care for, kids sports and activities……there is always something, but those things will always be there.  When you have young children it can be hard to find someone to watch them. Believe me I know.  I have missed many meetings or volunteer opportunities simply because I cannot take my kids with me.  However think about it, wanting to spend time with your kids at all those family free events sponsored by cities and businesses….those events are run by who??? Volunteers! 


So, please get out there!  Volunteer for someone, an organization, church or school, anyone!  I vote to get rid of the thought that someone else will take care of it. 





Natalie Kohlhagen