The Tale of a Twenty-Something Volunteer

My name is Kelsey, and I am diehard volunteer fanatic. I also have an addiction to startups, shopping and social media (which I’ve turned into a career).

Kelsey (left) Volunteering at Five Hole for Food event in Calgary.

This is how I would start my “Volunteers Anonymous” meeting. I fell in love with helping out in the community a while ago and never looked back.

 Where do I start? Well, why not at the beginning? This is my story and I’m sharing it with you to make you see how you, too, can make it happen!

 Who am I?

I volunteer with a few different organizations, and just like you, I have a full time job, run a freelance company,  launching my own non-profit start up and a local fashion blog (with the help of so many lovely guest bloggers) that has a personal shopping twist! On top of that, I also have a full social life, with a lot of amazing people.

 Thankfully, I am driven and have turned a passion into a career. I remember 5 years ago I was on the phone with my mom and I was telling her I wanted to be in this crazy thing called “Social Media Marketing”.  I sat there dreaming and then realized that I was the only person who could ever make that happen for myself. Guess what?  I did!  I currently work in Social Media Marketing at Clickspace and also have my own freelance company on the side.  So now that we all know how I pay the bills, let’s get to the fun stuff!

 That thing called volunteering.

Volunteering and non-profits are where I could talk all day. Currently, I am volunteering at a few different places. My choices are: the Mustard Seed (thanks to the lovely Katrina who works there for introducing me to the absolutely amazing work they do), The Distress Centre, which is more of a commitment but SO worth it, you change peoples’ lives by letting them know someone cares. As well, I am at Awesome Calgary monthly (thank you to Lori Stewart for starting up such an amazing foundation), which is a foundation that distributes a series of  $1000 grants to projects that benefit the community. Every 57 days, I’m at the Canadian Blood Clinic donating. These are all my consistent volunteering ventures. Another one I have been involved with recently is Five Hole For Food, which was amazing so I will be doing it all over again next year!

Lending a hand at The Hygiene Room at the Mustard Seed

 Volunteering is the most amazing feeling in the world! Some may say I’m selfish because I do it for the feeling of helping other people, the feeling I get.

Volunteering has helped me in so many ways:  it’s made me a selfless person, something I may have struggled with at times; it’s made me a better friend and sibling because I now listen when before I would speak. It’s made me a better person — the qualities I may have been lacking I am now learning to improve.

 At the end of the day, I have my parents to thank from the beginning they have taught me — that everyone is equal and no one deserves to be judged for what they don’t have. We never fully know someone else’s story or what they went through or are going through. Life throws SO many curve-balls and sometimes we aren’t able to handle them, so why not help these people overcome obstacles?

 Help find a cure to something, provide someone with something so simple to us – like dinner, or something worth more, such as a blood transfusion. All these things – little or big – impact every single person out there in some way. I will never forget the moment my dad had me listen to “Don’t laugh at me”, a country song. The words are so powerful and since that day, I think twice before I do something that could hurt someone else, and look for a way to build them up, instead of tear them down.

 Some may ask, how do I decide where to volunteer?  Find a passion for something or someone. We should be using our first time volunteering as a trampoline. You get on, start bouncing and don’t stop. The more you bounce the better you will feel; the more you bounce the higher you go; the higher you go the more impact and change we can have on the world.  

 You may think, “I am just one person”, but you are MORE than just “one person”. You are a person who has the capability to change the world even if in the slightest. Whether you’re volunteering with a child and becoming their role model and having a part in shaping them into the person the world needs them to be or volunteering with seniors who may not have the family or the companionship they once did — you being there gives them the hope at the end of the day that there is good in the world.

 It can be something as simple as the above or you can take it to a whole new level. Take the dent and make it a mountain and inspire others to do the same! One by one, as we add up, we will eventually change the world. You just have to believe.

 How do we get more 15-30 something year olds involved? The biggest excuse I always hear is, “I don’t have time”. Do you realize most non-profit organizations make it so they work around your schedule? What is 4 hours a month anyway?

 So one night, instead of going out, you and your friends stay in and head down as a group and help out at the Mustard Seed. Or volunteer to assist at an animal shelter on a Saturday afternoon. Why not step up and make a change and a difference? Let’s continue to grow the inspiration towards social good and make a difference in other peoples’ lives.

SO what does it take to get more 15-30 year olds involved in volunteering?It takes YOU. It takes you standing up and making the first move towards social good, be the voice your friends need to hear in the world, be the voice your younger brothers and sisters need to hear or cousins, be the voice YOUR PARENTS need to hear in the world. In doing this you can only achieve amazing things.

Awesome volunteer gig with Awesome Calgary

What does volunteering mean to someone? Or anyone? To me, it means giving back when I have been so blessed in life. We live in a country of freedom towards almost anything. We have the freedom of speech, the freedom to stand up and demand for a change to be made. Let’s not give away the one of the most precious gifts we can receive — the gift SO many people are fighting for as we speak. Make a change and make a difference, save someone’s life with the smallest gesture, because you never know how that one thing you do for someone else will affect the rest of his or her day or even his or her life.

About the Contributor

Kelsey Kashluba has a fashion blog that incorporates personal shopping. She is currently working on a new project 11.23 (named after her grandfather’s birthday), which will be launching in August 2012. It is a non-profit t-shirt company with designs based on one word. “I am all about building people up with positive words, as well as helping people find a way to give back when they maybe don’t have the time (by purchasing a t-shirt).” There are two foundations that consistently rotate and the third period is for non-profits in Calgary that may need a little help. Everything above cost goes to these organizations. For more information, check out the website (http://11twentythree.wordpress.com).

If you want to be a volunteer like Kelsey, check out www.volunteercalgary.ab.ca for hundreds of volunteer positions in Calgary! 

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About Propellus

Propellus is a non-profit organization that has been empowering organizations since 1955. Through a dynamic range of consulting, training and member services, it helps organizations envision and realize new paths, practices and possibilities. Propellus guides, mentors and educates clients, arming them with tools and resources to help boost organizational effectiveness. Propellus strengthens organizations; in doing so, it leads the way toward building thriving communities.
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