One of the resolutions I made this year, (and yes, I do resolutions), was to volunteer fifty hours over the next twelve months. As I write this, I have managed zilch. Good intentions, but a serious lack of follow through. I think part of the problem is that I’m incredibly busy. I know, I know, is that an excuse? Well, sort of. But not good enough. Surely, I can find a few hours a month to donate to a worthy cause!


I’ve always felt that volunteerism is important though I admit to doing much more when the children were at home. As part of their overall education, I felt it was important that they understand that there were many people who are less privileged. As a unit of three, the kids and I volunteered at the library, the city of Tigard, Meals on Wheels, the Tualatin River Keepers, etc. I was on the board of directors for the local skate club and also ran a book club at a community center for teens at a low income housing project.

But at some point, between the deadlines, the cancer, and the three jobs, I stopped volunteering and I have to admit that I miss it because quite frankly, it made me feel good. That’s the magical thing about volunteering. Yes, you’re helping out someone in need, but you’re also getting something out of it.

Writers tend to have a high level of empathy. Many of us can not only imagine walking in another person’s shoes, we can get a close approximation of what it’s like to live INSIDE THEIR SKIN. Which is helpful as we attempt to create fully realized characters, but also painful because the world can be a brutal place.

But volunteering can make the world seem a little less harsh. As someone who tends to spend a lot of time inside my own head, stepping outside of that to concentrate on the needs of others is a good thing.

I am behind eight hours… this will be the month I catch up.



Photo courtesy of David Castillo Dominici and