A Dedicated VolunteerSeptember 20, 2016
When asked to write a short reflection on my time spent as a volunteer at Storybook Farm, I was at a bit of a loss. How do you succinctly capture something that has been an integral part of your life for twelve years? After some reflection, I have decided that the easiest way to capture the experience lies in creating a list of the most important lessons I’ve learned. I hope you can enjoy and profit from my experiences!
• Never take your blessings for granted. – As a student, or any other individual engaged in this busy activity called life, it is easy to lose sight of the blessings and only see the problems. I have the ability to get out of bed each morning, walk across the room to start my day, and engage in conversation with other people. Not all of us have those opportunities, though. A quick reminder of that is more than enough to make my upcoming test look a bit less burdensome!
• Find joy in each moment. – My rush to check the next item off of the daily to-do list seems to take precedence over slowing down to appreciate the little things. If riding around the arena can bring a smile of joy to someone’s face, then why can’t I smile when I see the sunrise or stop to laugh at the squirrels playing tag across the lawn and around the tress?
• Use your talents to serve. – I have some things that I consider myself to be pretty good at (and also some things that I’m not so great at), but those talents don’t do me any good if I never use them or use them only for myself. I can make someone else’s day a little brighter and have a feeling of fulfillment and achievement when I use my talents to bring a smile to someone’s face or help them through something they are struggling with.
• Bring a great attitude with you, wherever you go! – It’s sort of hard to be mad at someone or grumpy if they are smiling and happy. If I bring a smile and positive attitude with me to the arena, the riders and volunteers are going to be happy. And guess what? The whole lesson becomes fun, which means that smiling must be contagious!
• Stay humble and say “thank you”. – I have been lucky to meet a great many people that are much better at a whole slew of things than I am. Projects will be accomplished much faster when I step back and ask a more talented person to help. A simple thank you at the end of that project makes everyone feel appreciated and makes it more likely that I’ll have help the next time around (and that’s never a bad thing)!
I’ll conclude by saying that I didn’t begin my journey at Storybook Farm with the idea of learning all of this. I went to make a difference in someone else’s life. I can only pray that I’ve accomplished that goal, but I do know for a fact that I have been changed by the experience. I will always carry the tears, smiles, and laughter of my journey in my heart. And now, I want to challenge you. Go begin your own journey. I’m not going to promise that it will be quick and easy or that it will yield the same results as mine, but I do know that you will also look back one day and say “It has made me the person I am and I wouldn’t trade it for anything”.