Inspirational Volunteers

A colleague whose opinion I value recently told me that she felt that my blog was beginning to have a negative feel to it. That is certainly not my intention, and while I’m not sure that I completely agree with her, I do value constructive criticism. So today, I thought I would focus on something undoubtedly positive- stories of dedicated, inspirational volunteers.  
 
What makes a person volunteer for an organization? In my organization’s case, most of the volunteers (mainly women) became volunteers when they still lived in the US. I work for an organization that supports Israel, so after these women made aliyah (moved to Israel), they continued to volunteer with the organization. Throughout my years of working at this particular organization, I have met some amazing and inspirational women. 
 
Many of these women work tirelessly for our organization, dedicating as much time as if it were their full-time job. There are others who work, but still make time to volunteer. 
 
In the US, not only but especially in the Jewish community, volunteering is just something that you do. It’s part of life. I don’t want to say that Israelis don’t volunteer, because that would not be true, but I think there is less of a culture of volunteerism in Israel than there is in the US (there is also less of a culture of donating, but that is another topic 🙂 ). 
 
I will never forget when my amazing co-worker “N” decided to leave her position at our organization after working there for 6 years (for reasons we won’t go into 🙂 ) “N” is Israeli, and she was truly wonderful. The volunteers decided to throw her a surprise going away party, with a little help from me. “N” was truly overwhelmed by their kindness. They asked her to say a few words, and I will never forget what she said. She got very emotional, and she discussed how much she had learned from these (mostly older) women over the years, about what it means to give of one’s self and volunteer. She said that growing up as an Israeli, this was not a culture that she was used to, and she was amazed by the dedication of all these women, many of them in their 70s, 80s, and even 90s. “N”‘s words will always stay with me, and I will think about how lucky I am to work at an organization with such kind, dedicated women (and now men as well! 🙂 ) 
 
Does anyone else have stories of inspiration volunteers that s/he would like to share? 
 
Chava Ashkenazi
Jerusalem, Israel
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