What does it mean to you?
One person gives freely; yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but ends up impoverished. Proverbs 11:24
Here in the Lowcountry, we are all fortunate to live in communities where private and public philanthropy, community service and volunteerism rank in the highest percentiles in America.
This month Pink wanted to get an “up close and personal” insight into what motivates people—who are just as busy, with just as many demands and obligations as everybody else—to be generous.
And we wanted to explore the paradox of generosity: the more you give the more you get.
We contacted local service organizations and asked them to have several of their volunteers respond to these two questions:
As a volunteer what rewards or benefits do you feel you derive by giving your time and energy in service to others?
What does the concept of being “generous” mean to you?
Here is a sampling of the overwhelming response we received. The answers are articulate, profound and inspiring—and a call to action for all of us. With our deepest admiration, Pink thanks everyone who participated. You are amazing volunteers.
I heard a quote once that states: “The meaning of life is to find your gift...The purpose of life is to give it away.” There is truly no greater fulfillment for me than to help others. I encourage people to try it. It instantly puts everything into perspective when your generosity is received as a gift to another. –Ashley Rhodes
“Volunteering in my community allows me to use my time and talents to help others without asking for anything in return. Although, each smile that lights up a child’s face or silent look of thankfulness from a parent makes every minute worth it. In choosing to volunteer with an organization like Junior Service League of Beaufort, I’m able to work together with dedicated women to make a greater impact than I would individually.” –Lindsay Gifford
As a member of the Junior Service League of Beaufort, I feel my contributions have a meaningful impact on the Beaufort community. It is a great thing to see how your efforts have a positive impact on the place you call home. In some way, all of us has some free time; it may not be much but we can all spare some. How you spend that time matters! To me, being generous means I spend a portion of my free time serving my community. If each of us gave just a small portion of our time to give back to others, the world (and Beaufort County) would be a much better place because of it. –Amanda Sutcliffe Jones
Volunteering for the Junior Service League of Beaufort gives me the gratification of knowing how I am helping others in our community. I feel as if I can make a difference being in a league with like-minded young women. Generous doesn’t always mean giving money or something material. Generous is giving of your efforts, time, service—whatever is necessary—without any rewards or expectations in return. –Megan Bridge
I would say some of the biggest rewards of volunteering through JSLB are seeing the children light up with excitement when we come bearing cupcakes and crafts. When I’ve volunteered in the evenings with CODA, I have witnessed the direct impact we have on these families. I always hope after I’ve left the shelter for the evening that we’ve given the families an escape from their daily routine and helped reinforce that there are many kind people in Beaufort. I always associate generosity as going out of your way to make sure someone else’s needs are met, whether it is financial or emotional. –Nikki Ruhf
I volunteer because it gives me joy. Many people have helped me on my journey through life and doing the same for others is a way to pay it forward. I’m a happier person helping others and seeing the joy in their faces. –Nikki Newman
As a volunteer tutor, I get great joy and pleasure working with my first graders. They brighten my day, enhance my outlook and teach me new things all the time. I also learn to be a better tutor from observing their awesome teacher, Ms. Howell. Being generous means giving time, money and talent to an organization without the expectation of something in return, especially when that organization’s mission is to improve the lives of others and make our community a better place. –Phyllis Doyle
I feel grateful for being able to do something that helps another person, no matter how small. I guess when you give to others, you feel as though your life has purpose and meaning. I am glad that I can do something meaningful. I think the term “generous” speaks to sharing whatever you have with others. Since I am not wealthy, I am generous with my time and my talents. –Dr. Renarta Tompkins
As a volunteer with the UW’s Early Reading Program at HH School for the Creative Arts, I read with three different students each week and feel that time each week is one small way I can provide support for our public education system. I can offer three specific students the opportunity to get extra practice with language development, in a one-on-one setting, with an adult who is totally focused on that one child. I enjoy knowing that I am part of a much larger effort to address dropout prevention by helping students with the reading skills essential to their engagement in learning. Being generous means sharing and being a good steward of the blessings and resources with which I have been blessed. I am motivated by a family legacy of generosity as an expression of gratitude and by so many of my “heroes” who give of their time, energy, expertise and resources to make their communities better for everyone. –Mary-Stuart Alderman
I know I am helping the staff by doing time-consuming data entry so they have more time to help clients. I see that the lives of many women and children are improved and they are able to move forward and lead safe, fulfilling lives. I am happy to be a small part of these success stories. The CODA staff is a group of compassionate, amazing women working to stop this epidemic of violence against women. They always let me know that my efforts are really appreciated and valued. There is no better reward than that.
The concept of generosity means that I am giving my time and money to a charitable organization to help improve the lives of others, without expecting something in return. I believe that everyone who has been blessed with talents, time and comfortable income has an obligation to give back to the community. —Carol McGrath
It is largely the satisfaction of knowing you are there when somebody needs you. Acknowledging that we are all vulnerable and that these folks (mostly women) are facing challenging times under the best of circumstances, which is usually not the case, and doing something about it. To support them and give them a chance to be free of violence is simply doing the right thing.
Generosity equals understanding needs and taking action. Being generous is a matter of doing what needs to be done when it needs to be done. Giving of time and money in a timely manner. —Deidre
For me, being a CODA volunteer doesn’t have rewards or benefits the way you would expect volunteerism would. The work CODA does in our community isn’t the gratifying kind. It is, however, some of the most important and essential work with which I’ve ever been involved. CODA, its staff and volunteers have a direct impact on the community. It is beneficial to bring the issue of domestic violence to light. It is impossible to work to eradicate an issue of this magnitude if people aren’t aware there is a problem. If I spent every day giving my time and energy and all the efforts helped one person break free from the cycle of abuse, it would be the ultimate reward.
The concept of generosity means giving of yourself by any means you can. You can give generously of your time, even if you think you have none to give. You can give generously with your money, even if you think you have none to give. You can generously offer wisdom and advice, even when you think it will go unheard. The world offers more to those who offer more to the world. –Sheri Davis
Volunteering at BSH allows me to donate my time to help others locally. I enjoy the hands-on experience of working with neighbors in need of help. Having people tell me how much they appreciate the food and clothing provided by BSH and thank me personally for donating my time for them means so much to me. Besides a contribution of time, I see where 100% of my financial support goes to the less fortune in the Bluffton community. During the Thanksgiving and Christmas season the need for volunteers magnifies. Giving additional time to help with turkeys and toys is heartwarming. Helping others during the holidays makes this time of year extra special to me. Thank you BSH for providing me with this wonderful experience. —Rich Swartzwelder
As a staff member, I have the privilege to see service to others every day. I work with donors who are looking to make an impact in our community; I see volunteers give their time, compassion and good cheer to our neighbors in need. I see the relief and appreciation on our clients’ faces when they receive assistance that will help them become more self-reliant. It’s an awesome feeling to know that the work I do truly makes a difference. In our day-to-day lives, there aren’t many opportunities to see kindness in action...I am always grateful for the reminders of good in our world.
To me, generosity means giving what you can, when you can, how you can. My development career has run the gamut: I have witnessed the signing of 8-figure gift agreements, collected the proceeds from a weekend lemonade stand and pretty much everything in between. Regardless of the size of a gift, the intent is the same: To be generous in the way you know how. It’s a reminder that we’re all in this together, and it’s our responsibility to help those in need. –Alyson Barber
Knowing that an act of simple kindness connects all of us together. A smile shared between giver and receiver is why I volunteer. Being generous allows me to reflect on the many blessings I have been given. —Harry Garrabrandt
As a staff member, it’s so rewarding to witness a community pull together and support one another. We are a small community, but it’s the generosity of each member of the community that makes it a great one to be apart of! Generosity means opening your hearts to someone in need and not expecting anything in return! —Gwen Taylor