Karin Feltman: Katrina volunteering

Karin Feltman
Volunteered after Hurricane Katrina

1. i actually don’t work for an organization that sends out volunteers- i find volunteering opportunities on my own and go. i work for a hospital here in lawrence as an ER nurse. they are supportive of my efforts, but they aren’t actually involved in that process. well…that isn’t exactly true. they are part of something called the “pinckney partnership”, which is a partnership with a local elementary school, and there are volunteering project through that. i tutor a 5th grade class, for example.

2. most of the organizations that i have volunteered through have been faith-based organizations. i have gone to mississippi to aid in hurricane relief through the episcopal diocese of mississippi, and i am going to honduras with the church of the resurrection (COR) in kansas city. they also send volunteers to mississippi for continued hurricane clean-up, to the ukraine for construction and bible teaching, and to south africa for medical and HIV education, and also for construction efforts. they have many local volunteering projects, as well. my trip to kenya is through an organization called CTC International, and they currently send volunteers only to kenya, for both medical missions and construction projects. they are a christian organization as well, though not a church.

3. i think that volunteering is becoming popular for many reasons…some of which i will cover in #4, since i believe that many people volunteer precisely because of what THEY get out of it. another reason that the popularity of volunteering is increasing is that volunteer efforts are getting more exposure and more coverage in the media, and that allows people to become aware of volunteering opportunities and the needs of others. i think that many people have always thought of mission work or volunteering as very expensive, time-consuming, and difficult to get into. while that can be the case, there are many opportunities that take little time and effort, yet still make a huge impact (like serving at a local homeless shelter, or “soup-kitchen” , for instance.) i serve at LINK (lawrence interdenominational nutrition kitchen) for about 3 hours, every other month….and while that is a small effort for me, we feed up to 160 people each time that i volunteer so it is a huge benefit to the community. the more that these opportunities are highlighted in our media, the more people realize that they CAN help, and very easily…and there are things that they can do with their families, too.

oddly enough, i also believe that people are having families either much later in life, or not at all….and that is freeing up a large number of able bodied people to do volunteer work. many people don’t want to leave their spouse or children (for obvious reasons) to do volunteer work, but there are more single people in the world now that not everyone feels that they “have” to get married- and many of us feel called to use our availability to help others. it makes sense for me to go help where i am needed, since i have nothing tying me down here at home. i feel very privileged.

lastly, i feel that volunteering is becoming more popular because we have seen tragedy much closer to home than we are used to seeing (example: 9/11, and hurricane katrina). we are used to having bad things happen “somewhere else” and now they are also happening here. people tend to want to help those people that they relate to because their plight seems more real. we can all imagine what it would be like to have those things happen in OUR towns, too, so we want to help others just like we would want them to help us if we needed it. does that make sense?

also- volunteering just feels good!!

4. that brings me to your last question…. i cannot even explain the sense of fulfillment that i get when i volunteer, and i am sure that is the same for most people. knowing that you have made a difference in the life of another person (or people) is an amazing feeling. i tie that in with my faith, because i feel called by god to give back my gifts to serve god and others. he gave me my gifts to serve him and i try to do that faithfully. nothing feels better than living the life that god intended you to live. even without faith, though, people can get a strong sense of value and worth by helping out another human being (or animal, or the environment)…. it is a sense of productive work that makes this life and this world a better place to live. everyone wants to know “who am i, and why am i here?”…the meaning of life….well, volunteering gives life meaning, if nothing else. it keeps us from just taking up space and draining resources. it allows us to give back.

Explore posts in the same categories: North America, Volunteer interviews

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