Service with Heart
I’ve always had a heart for service.
Perhaps it was growing up in a military family, or going on service trips with my church in middle school. I welcomed opportunities to help neighbors shovel snow on a chilly morning or lay mulch in early spring. It was a chance to make others feel valued, and that was enough.
When I moved away to college, that part of my identity slipped away. Classes and social gatherings became the priority and there never seemed to be enough time to “give away.” Even the go-getter culture of my university challenged my perspective. I became so focused on landing a great job that the idea of a balanced life fell off my radar.
Coming to No Barriers has been part of my quest to reclaim my identity of service. But getting paid to do this work makes the endeavor less soul-satisfying. So I decided to make my No Barriers Pledge about embracing my passion for people and committed to 50 hours of community service this year.
I’ve had a handful of opportunities to serve my community since I launched my pledge in January but none carried the spark I remember. It’s felt more like punching a time card than giving generously. That changed at a recent event for Crossroads Safehouse, a local shelter for abused women and children. It was a kickoff event that I helped plan for Men for Change, an initiative that inspires men to raise awareness of domestic violence in their spheres of influence. It’s about becoming a role model for the community and challenging a silent culture of abuse.
I have to admit that I was hesitant to plan another event. After all, I spend most of my time at No Barriers launching community fundraisers. I didn’t think I had the bandwidth to take on another, but then I met with a group of volunteers for What’s Your Everest Colorado, our annual mountain climb fundraiser. I was struck by their passion and commitment amidst many other obligations. These folks were all in. So I decided to jump on board with Crossroads Safehouse. Along the way I’ve learned a few things.
First, be willing to get outside your comfort zone. Do the thing that scares you. A domestic abuse shelter didn’t feel like a great match for me and I thought I would be judged simply for being a man. It’s also an issue that many people feel is better left behind closed doors. To take a stand means engaging in difficult conversations sometimes. But as many program participants know at No Barriers, the greatest growth happens when you dare to take a risk.
Second, jump in with both feet. We’re all craving deep connections and meaningful opportunities but we sell ourselves short with a lack of commitment. This is exactly what happened with my first volunteer opportunities of the year. Once I built the conviction to engage I found great returns in relationships and sense of purpose. We think we’re so busy but, on average, people in developed countries have more leisure time than they used to.
The problem is that we equate time with money so every second counts. But what if we learned to equate time with impact? The impact of our relationships, the impact of our passions, or the impact of our skills.
Whatever your passion, find a way get involved. If your passion is No Barriers, there are plenty of ways to support our work and help others discover a life of purpose and service. Learn how you can get involved with No Barriers.