The Importance of Volunteering in Your Community

Haiku volunteer Maui

Throughout my life my parents volunteered for everything. Were they busy? YES! Did they have time for it? No, not really. But, somehow they always found the time coaching soccer, cooking for bake sales, volunteering for sporting events, and town workdays to clean up rubbish. They instilled in me the importance of volunteering by setting an example and I look to that as a beacon for what I want to contribute to my community throughout my life.

There are many non-profits on Maui in need of volunteers. These nonprofits have very small budgets and every set of hands count. I interviewed Maui resident Fran Snell whom I met when she volunteered at the Boys & Girls Club in Haiku. Her reason for volunteering was, “Maui is small and volunteering can make a real impact. Volunteering in any form is a way of giving back whether you are working with children, distributing food at the Food Bank, participating in a beach clean up, protecting endangered plants and animals or spending time socializing with animals at the Humane Society. It is a chance to impact your community, bring about changes and make Maui a better place.”

Leilani Andaya volunteers at her daughter’s Head Start, “You should know what goes on in your child’s school. By participating and being involved you can know this. Plus, I love being around kids and helping out.”

“Volunteering is extremely important to us,” says Dorothy Ghylin-Bennett of Kihei, whom I met when her and her husband Alex were volunteers at the Maui Film Festival. “Because so many people have given their time, talents and efforts in the world in which we were brought up, it is only fitting that we continue to do so for others. We perceive volunteering as time well spent and are honoured to volunteer for organizations that need us or touch our hearts. Best things about volunteering? Sharing joy with other volunteers as well as seeing smiles from those who benefit from our efforts. We have made so many, many friends through our volunteer efforts. That is a true blessing for us. We also find feelings of accomplishment when we complete a task or volunteer effort.”

As for me, there are terrible things happening in the world today, sometimes it makes me feel paralyzed and helpless. When I volunteer I feel like I am being part of the solution, by actively participating in events and organizations that are making the world better. It is very easy to complain, but to take action is so much more rewarding. As a resident of Maui and specifically the Haiku community it is important to me to contribute, and in particular set an example for future generations. It can be very hard work, but at the end of the day to be a part of something bigger than myself makes me smile. I love making new friends and pitching in.

I encourage you to volunteer for your favorite non-profit organization. I realize everyone is busy, especially moms, but truly even one hour of your time is amazing, especially if you can involve your kids too! For example, The Haiku Ho’olaule’a has volunteer shifts of 2 hour time slots for their event in the spring; that seems achievable. Or if you are working in town and can offer to stop in to a shop to pick up an item for an event; that in itself is helpful beyond words. It doesn’t have to be an enormous amount of time. Many hands can often make light work and a brighter and better community.

In the season of giving it’s a good reminder that giving doesn’t always have to cost money. As we all know our time is valuable. However, to give can be a gift that keeps on giving:

1. You are setting an amazing example for our children.

2. You are making a difference in our community.

3. It feels really good and makes you smile!

4. It is often FUN and a great way to meet new people and make new friends.

5. You get to share your talents with members of the community.

Image Credit: Ha'iku Ho'oluale'a & Flower Festival

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Bridget Hinman is the founder of Unicorn Square and hand-makes her fairies on the North Shore of Maui. She also currently volunteers as President of Haiku Elementary School PTA, and volunteers on beach clean up days, Ian Walsh’s Menehune Mayhem, and the Holy Ghost Feast in Kula.

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