A few weeks before the end
of last school year, my kids
brought home the annual
large packet of papers in
preparation for the next year. Many of
the school papers had to do with volunteering
for various activities, such as
room parent, coaches for sports teams
and the sign-up sheet for working the
required five days in the cafeteria.
My husband, Mark, had always handled
the last job—thanks to his more
flexible work schedule. But then he got
a new job, and suddenly I was responsible
for fulfilling our cafeteria requirement.
So when this year’s sheet came
home, I debated whether I would sign
up to be a room mom again, and I was
most happy to discover that I could
simply write a check for what seemed
a minimal amount and be done with
my cafeteria obligation.
But just as I was about to send back
a “Thanks, but no thanks” reply to the
volunteer sheet and whip out my
checkbook and relieve myself of any
cafeteria duty, Maddie and Alex walked
into the room.
“What days are you going to sign
up for in the cafeteria, Mom?” Maddie
“Are you going to be my room mom
next year?” inquired Alex, who pointed
out I owed him equal time that I had
already given his sister.
So much for taking the easy way
out. But, you know, I’m kind of glad I
didn’t. In hindsight, I realize that all the things I love about my kids’ school are
because of the many people who do say
yes when those volunteer forms come
In fact, I’m reminded of why I need
to volunteer by St. Paul’s saying, “For as
in one body we have many parts, and
all the parts do not have the same function,
so we, though many, are one body
in Christ and individually parts of one
another” (Romans 12:4-5).
One look around my children’s
school—from the library workers to
the maintenance staff to those who
serve healthy, good-tasting meals for
the kids every day—is certainly a testimony
So now, as we head back into another
school year, I am gearing up for my
next go-round as room mom, soccer
coach, Girl Scout leader and cafeteria
Step Up and Get Busy
There are many volunteer opportunities
available if you search them out. Some
of them may even be closer to home
than you think. Here are some suggestions
to help you get going:
Make a call. Call your parish office
or an organization with which you feel
a connection and ask what types of
volunteer opportunities are available.
Then determine which ones best fit
you and your family.
Lend a hand. Once you or your
family find a volunteer activity that
interests you, get started. For instance,
if you love animals, perhaps you could
volunteer to work at the local animal
shelter. Or some hospitals have volunteer
opportunities for people to come
and hold premature infants who need
feeding and some extra cuddling. Like
building things? Seek out a local Habitat
for Humanity project.
Think small. Oftentimes we tend
to think of volunteer projects as massive
undertakings. We become overwhelmed
and just give up. But it
doesn’t have to be that way. Even the
smallest acts can make a big difference
to someone. For instance, volunteer to
watch a friend’s child so he or she can
go grocery shopping alone. Or offer to
run some errands for an elderly neighbor
Make a list. At one of our Girl
Scout troop meetings, my co-leader and
I had the girls come up with a list of
possible volunteer activities we could
do as a troop. Seeing them written
down on paper gave us a good kick-start
to get moving on a number of
them. We were both amazed at the
broad range of ideas the girls came up
Have everyone in the family suggest
some ideas for a family volunteer project.
Here are a few ideas from our list to
help get yours going:
• Serve food at a soup kitchen.
• Collect food to donate to the local
• Pick up litter at a local park.
For more ideas, visit www.familycares.org.