A few weeks ago when my teenager came home from his first night of CCD to kick off his last year he gave me a bunch of papers that describe what he is going to learn that will help him prepare for his upcoming Confirmation in March. I have been through this before with my oldest one. Part of the preparation is the requirement to do some volunteering at home, school and church. We talked about what he could do for the hours and some of his teachers recommendations. He tell me "my teacher says that every 5 hours of helping around the house gets 1 hour of volunteer time." I think that's all well and good and will get him to his requirement but is that REALLY volunteering? Is it really helping someone else out (other than me who gets the added benefit of extra help around the house)? While I could really use the help, I am not in desperate need of it and will he really learn something from that to prepare him for adulthood?
I ponder this thought and then listen to this where he speaks of something greater.."It can't happen without you, without a new spirit of service, a new spirit of sacrifice. So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism, of responsibility, where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves but each other."
Surely we can find more meaningful work for a 14 year old to do within the community. So I start digging on the computer and find a volunteer organization within the county that we live. They organize all sorts of smaller groups and volunteers and match people up with their skills and the communities needs. Perfect. I join and next week myself along with my two boys are going to an orientation class where we will be able to pick from all kinds of organizations to help our community.
We are going to start off at my older one's Catholic school where volunteer students gather once a month in the cafeteria to feed the homeless and then take ourselves to other shelters where they will need us to help. We will sign ourselves up for Special Olympics duties. My boys are so fortunate to be able to play any sport they want without having to suffer a handicap. Wouldn't it be so wonderful for them to be able to give of themselves in this capacity to someone who does suffer? We have already started to make rosaries for troops and pitching in every week for our church's food bank. But it's all new to us and I suspect that for every thing that we do together we not only get to that service hour requirement but hopefully touch lives and enrich our own.