How I Became a Volunteer

Do you know your volunteers' stories? Sit them down and ask!
Do you know your volunteers’ stories? Sit them down and ask!

Editor’s note: Every volunteer has their story, their moment when they decided their time is worth more if given to others. As volunteer managers, it’s critical for us to understand the motivations and inspirations of our volunteers. Below, one volunteer bravely shares her story.

Guest post by Rachel Rocero

Late last year on a Sunday morning I was driving on my way to church when a car started pulling into my lane. I barely had time to react and my instincts propelled me to move out of the way so I wouldn’t crash.

The Near Miss

Before I knew it, my car was swerving dangerously across four lanes of freeway. I tried to regain control of my car, but it was as if the steering wheel was locked. The car seemed to have a mind of its own and it continued out of control from one end of the freeway to the other, until I was next to the concrete railing, about to hit it at full force.

I started to recount my life in those few split seconds. By some divine intervention, as I inched closer to the rail at full speed, my car suddenly regained control at the last moment before impact. I gripped the wheel tightly and sobbed, knowing that something incredible had just happened.

During church service that day, I felt chills as the pastor told the story of a teenager who had crashed his car into a house, only inches away from a gas valve that would have exploded had he hit it. I approached one of the worship leaders after the service and felt compelled to tell him what had happened on my way there. He narrated a similar story – he had recently spun out of control on a freeway.

The Lesson Learned

There were just too many coincidences that day, and I knew that this experience housed a deeper message. If I were to leave this earth, what memory would I leave behind? What impact have I made? What have I done to help others and how are my actions meaningful?

At that moment, I made a vow to myself that I would do more…I would make my time count. Far too many years had passed since I had taken action and dedicated my time to a cause. I longed to feel intrinsically rewarded again.

The Action Taken

I went on VolunteerMatch and I searched for organizations that inspired me. I came across Exposing Hope (formerly Care Through Action), a San Francisco organization that raises awareness and funds through photography for under-served women and children in developing countries. I read about the organization’s founder, Alissa Everett, on Oprah.com. Her story on giving up her corporate career in finance to photograph and cover under-the-radar stories in the world’s most troubled areas motivated me.

On the morning of my birthday, I spoke to Alissa about the vision of the organization and officially became a member of the Exposing Hope team. I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate my birthday than by becoming an advocate for a greater cause. Through my communications efforts, I can and will make a change. Life is too short to not make an impact in the community.

As volunteers, we all have a different story to tell. Do you know what inspires your organization’s volunteers?

Rachel Rocero is a blogger and marketing & communications professional with experience in higher education, nonprofits and startups. She is the volunteer Director of Communications at Exposing Hope.

(Image by BCPL Photo on Flickr.)

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