by J1 Reporter Mallory Connealy
Volunteering is a great way to immerse yourself in the needs of others and deter your focus from your individual dilemmas. It is easy to get caught up in our own lives and forget about the needs of the people around us. Oftentimes, people become desensitized to the suffering of others and get into a comfortable routine that revolves around personal wants and needs. Theology III teacher Mrs. Lori Spanbauer is an avid volunteer and a Catholic who recognizes the value of giving back. “We as humans and middle class Americans pretty much have all that we need and this can cause insulation from the suffering of others,” Spanbauer said. World problems such as poverty and hunger rarely appear in our daily lives while they continue to overwhelm the lives of impoverished people.
Exposure to these worldwide issues is vital in order to create perspective. It’s also necessary to expand our ability to recognize the blessings in our lives and express gratitude. “Students can find themselves in a bubble and not realize how blessed they are with their education, financial status, social wealth and it can become a big responsibility to share these blessings with others,” Deacon Fuller said. Therefore, it is important that we dedicate time to serve with others and show the same compassion that was originally demonstrated by Jesus.
The people that you serve can offer valuable lessons and life stories in return. People experiencing poverty have usually gone through extreme situations that can be overlooked by the general public. The environment and unfortunate circumstances can create barriers, and make it difficult to stand financially afloat. The mental and physical health of the people in these situations is often overlooked. We constantly make excuses for not doing community service which ultimately can hurt the lives of others and create a vicious cycle.
One of the key concepts to understand when considering service is that we are stewards of God’s gifts, meaning that we did absolutely nothing to deserve God’s grace but instead we were each blessed with unique talents. It is our duty to share them with the people around us. “The mental, physical and financial gifts that God gave to me are not mine and therefore it is my duty to share them,” Fuller said. Jesus calls on us to perform the same services that he once did.
By veering away from the fixation on our own lives, we can learn many valuable lessons through the lives of others. There are many different philosophies as to why people should volunteer. Mrs. Spanbauer recognizes the importance of volunteering because it is God’s work and it connects us with other people’s suffering.
While it can be difficult to make time for community service in our busy schedules, the sacrifice of time and effort is expected when showing compassion for others.
Easy ways to get involved in the Omaha Community would be to sign up through different volunteer programs such as the Open Door Mission or at other local volunteering programs. The first step when volunteering is to search for an issue that is important to you. After finding an issue, find a program dedicated to help solve that specific issue and get involved with the program. When you use your gifts and talents to volunteer in a category that you are interested in, you can have a more impactful experience.
“The bottom line is that being of service is what Jesus wants us to do,” Spanbauer said. We are to follow in His footsteps in order to strengthen our faith and hold a meaningful relationship with God. Even if you do not identify with a religion, there are still plenty of valuable takeaways from volunteering.