by Kristopher Coulston
Service for others is one of life’s most rewarding experiences. For as long as I can remember, I have felt the urge to volunteer and give back, and this drive is the reason for some of my fondest memories. There are so many wonderful experiences I have had during volunteer work: the amazing conversation I had with one of the residents at a residential care facility, working an ultramarathon aid station and handing out water and food to the runners, and spending hours doing research in order to write a blog for Wells Bring Hope.
I have been asked by several people why I enjoy working for free, but I don’t see volunteering that way because I get so much back in return. The joy I feel when I see how grateful runners are, the incredible conversations I’ve had with strangers, the satisfaction I get knowing that I have made a difference, even if it’s a small one is a kind of payment. The sense of community I feel when I am working with a group of strangers makes me feel I am part of something bigger, and that is valuable to me.
The need for service is endless. To think that on any given day, and at any given time, there is a need to be met, is overwhelming. Kindness should impel us to turn our focus outward to meet that need for service, which will, in turn, make a manifest inward difference. As Albert Einstein has said, “Only a life lived for others is worth living.” Having a compassionate outward focus is the only way to live life.
The most vital part of being human is having compassion. Compassion can make people do some crazy, amazing, and selfless things. I always think of Mother Teresa when I think about compassion – she is a prime example of the incredible things people can achieve when driven by compassion. She dedicated her entire life to meet the needs of others. Some have said that Mother Teresa deprived herself, but I imagine she would say that she was richly rewarded. When she departed from this earth, she left a legacy of service, compassion, and love, and she will always be remembered for her selflessness. Individually, most of us will never have the kind of universal impact that Mother Teresa did, but our collective small acts of compassion and service will meet the mark to leave a legacy of humanity for the future. In fact, we can all be guided by her wisdom as we seek ways to give back, “We cannot all do great things, but we can do small things with great love.”