Blog post created by Sam Cryer, Greenhill Humane Society volunteer
As I get ready to move to a new state this summer, there are things I’m looking forward to (like my first-ever white Christmas), and things I’m sad to be leaving behind. One of the things I’m going to miss the most about Oregon is volunteering at Greenhill Humane Society.
I’ve reflected on why I’m going to miss it so much. Why do I volunteer? And why is it such a big deal in my life? There are way too many reasons to volunteer for me to go into today, but if you’re asking the question, “Why volunteer?” here are some of the answers that are true for me:
Volunteer because: It’s a great way to make new friends. I’ve enjoyed working with people from all different walks of life during my time at the shelter. Although we may have nothing else in common, we share a love for animals and a desire to help them. It’s been so fun to meet different volunteers, develop friendships with staff members, and, of course, fall in love with the animals. If you’re looking for a furry family member, there’s no better way to find the perfect match than by working with these shelter residents and getting to know their personalities. For me, one of the best things that came out of my time at Greenhill was adopting the sweetest, funniest, most adorable guinea pig I’ve ever known. Although my “Greenhill grad” has since crossed over the rainbow bridge, that friendship is forever.
Volunteer because: It gives a sense of purpose. My time volunteering with Greenhill has also overlapped with some tough events in my life, including bouts of depression and a nearly year-long stint of unemployment. There were days when life felt empty and meaningless. But on the days I volunteered, (even when I didn’t feel like it) it was because I knew there were people and animals depending on me, and that gave me a sense of direction and purpose to hold onto until I could get into a better headspace. Whether I was cleaning cages or watching bunny binkies, I always felt better after my shift.
Volunteer because: It provides experience. Through my volunteer work at Greenhill, I’m constantly learning new things about animals, about our community, and about myself. From practical skills (like how to trim a rabbit’s nails) to fun facts (did you know guinea pigs can sleep with their eyes open?) I’ve learned so many great things by volunteering—and had tons of fun experiences along the way.
Volunteer because: It benefits others. I’m all about self-care, and as an introvert I place high value on “me time.” But I also believe that serving others can be one of the surest avenues to happiness. By volunteering at Greenhill, I’ve been able to give something to my community. Volunteering allows me to lighten the burden on staff—dedicated people who take on a lot. It allows me to help animals learn to trust, to bring out their personalities so they have the best chance of finding a loving forever home. And it allows me to be a small part of helping pet owners provide the best care they can and maybe even find their best friend.
Last, but not least,
Volunteer because: It creates great memories. Getting ready to start a new adventure has been a surprisingly nostalgic experience. I’ve loved looking back on my time in Oregon and realizing how many wonderful memories I’ll get to take with me as I move forward. And a lot of those memories come from Greenhill: My clumsy first attempts to pick up a bunny; the attention-hogging kitten who meowed so insistently at me that—even though I don’t volunteer in the cattery—I had to come say hello; the prickly feel of petting a hedgehog; the dog who greeted me so enthusiastically that the sweater I was wearing will never be the same; discovering that rats are adorable. All of these memories and more are gifts I get to take with me on the next step of my journey.
These are some of the reasons I volunteer. I love the way it makes me feel, the benefits it brings, and the difference it can make—in my life and the lives of others. But why will you do it? Volunteering, like any worthwhile endeavor, is a journey of discovery. So if you really want to narrow down your personal answers to the question, why volunteer? the best answer I can give you is: Try it. You’ll see for yourself.