I Volunteer Because…

I was recently named Volunteer of the Year at Presbyterian Night Shelter in Fort Worth.

I’m definitely not bragging – or fishing for an “attaboy” – I just feel like I should clarify a few things.

First of all…I was very humbled and honored by the nomination. Over the last couple years, the shelter has grabbed hold of my heart and gloriously ruined me. My wife and I have dedicated a lot of time and effort to PNS, and I felt like the nomination acknowledged that.

It made me feel appreciated.

It made me smile.

This might sound a little crazy – especially since I practically dared my friends and family to carry me across the finish – but winning the award was not that important to me.

Don’t get me wrong….I’m glad I won – because I HATE losing.

But I feel like I snatched victory from the jaws of defeat with a couple Facebook updates and several mass e-mails.

As I started writing this blog post, my wife said to me, “Don’t feel guilty…”

I don’t.

It’s just VERY important to me that people know that it’s not the awards or the recognition that motivates me to give back. (I put that in several of the e-mails that I sent out.)

I thought this would be appropriate time to explain why I volunteer at the night shelter (I should have done this a long time ago):

I volunteer at the shelter because I believe that everyone deserves a fighting chance to be successful.

I volunteer because of the one-on-one interaction with the clients.

I volunteer because I want to measure success in my life by the relationships I develop along the way.

I volunteer because I want to make giving back sexy and cool.

I volunteer because I’ve been extremely blessed in my life – I want to pay it forward.

I volunteer because when I’m having a bad day, the shelter provides perspective.

I volunteer because the smiles and hugs of the clients warm my heart.

I volunteer because I love it when random people reach out to me on Facebook and ask, “Can I go with you to the shelter?”

I volunteer because I want to inspire my family and friends to give back.

I volunteer at the shelter because I love hearing stories about clients moving into permanent housing or getting a job.

I volunteer because significance is one of my top life facets – right behind spiritual and family.

I volunteer because every few months, a client asks me my name or “When are you coming back?”

I volunteer because I’ve started to recognize the power of presence.

I volunteer because that’s exactly where God wants me to be. 

Thank you to all of the people who voted for me and encouraged me throughout the “competition.”

I also want to give a special shout out to B.J. Lacasse – she is the real Volunteer of the Year. She single-handedly put a face on the homeless problem in our community through her wonderfully great images. (Click here to see a news story about her exhibit, “The Street.”)

Never stop giving back!

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