Sowing a seed

Friends from church have a totally fun evening cooking at the PORT shelter, Newport News, Virginia, March 2008

Friends from church have a totally fun evening cooking at the PORT shelter, March 2008

You never can tell when you do an act
Just what the result will be;
But with every deed you are sowing a seed,
Though the harvest you may not see.
Ella Wheeler Wilcox

It’s not surprising that several research studies document the benefits of volunteering to help others, whether formally or informally.  While such efforts take time — hours that must be carved out of already busy schedules — I often hear people say how glad they are when they make it a priority, stating “I gain so much more than I give.”

The great thing about volunteering is that there are countless opportunities, with needs to fit every set of skills or preferences. Show up for a clean-up or work day at a local park, camp or community center. Tutor those who are incarcerated and working toward a GED, or struggling elementary school students who just need a little extra attention, or people who want to learn English but can’t afford classes.

Volunteer to mentor a young adult through Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, or Best Buddies.  Coach little league teams or athletes participating in Special Olympics.  Walk dogs at a local animal shelter.  Host home gatherings for Bible studies, youth groups or just a bunch of friends and neighbors who haven’t gotten together for a long time.

The camaraderie shared by people working together to serve others is unlike any other you will experience.  At such times, the word “community” takes on a whole new meaning.  If you’ve been feeling blue, isolated or lonely, you might want to consider joining a local effort to serve others.  You’ll meet some of the happiest, most generous and fun people you would ever want to know.  And you just might be one of them.


  1. Barb of Crown Point

    Our church is doing something special this month – “As we remember the events September 11, 2001, we want to honor our heroes by also remembering what makes our country great. We’re asking every person to perform one selfless act each day, September 1—September 11, 2013.”
    So far I am 3 for 3 and it feels good. I hope it gets people in the giving mode and they will keep it up with some regularity. I posted the Wilcox quote on our church’s FB page as it was so appropriate. Thank you!

    • Thanks for sharing this wonderful project, Barb! I hope many others will read and do likewise. I’m so glad you liked the quote. It’s a catchy rhyme and one that I now say to myself fairly often. I appreciate your visits here, and your like-minded efforts to spread joy and defeat despair!

  2. Jenelle

    School recently started and I’ve been pondering how much to get involved this year. Then at back to school night happy flutters warmed my stomach and I was reminded how much I love helping in my children’s class! I absolutely adore helping out in school. Today, this morning actually, I signed up to work in my son’s kindergarten class twice a month and will do the same for my second grader. Volunteering=gain for sure!

    • Thanks Jenelle, and I am so happy you are helping out in school. When I was a school librarian, my wonderful parent volunteers were an invaluable support in both practical and intangible ways; just having their help enabled me to stay positive and get through all the challenges of serving busy students. I often think that this entire nation would crumble very quickly if not for all the countless hours of volunteer service that go into every endeavor. I hope you and all your students have a happy and productive school year!

  3. Just turned in my application yesterday to be a Hospice House volunteer here in my city. I am looking forward to beginning this new venture in a couple of weeks and at the same time a little apprehensive. Simply stepping out in faith, believing I have heard God’s call to this area of ministry. Your post is an encouragement. Thank you!

    • Starr, I am so happy you found it helpful! And what a valuable gift you are giving. Jeff and I lost a dear friend in 2011; he made the choice to live his final days at home, and what a blessing that was, to be able to be with him and his wife in the home we had come to love, and say good-bye in the same setting where so many fond hellos had taken place. Even the best and most caring hospitals are so cold and brutal in comparison with home-like environments. I pray that your efforts will be a great blessing to you and to all you meet! Thanks for sharing this news with us.

  4. Your post is very timely Julia. I sent an email before the weekend to a volunteer based charity to offer my time or skills in some way. I’ll let you know what transpires. You are always a big inspiration.

    • Wow, this is exciting!! They don’t know how lucky they are, but they will soon! Keep us posted, and good luck!


  1. Sought and found | Defeat Despair

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