Wednesday, January 16, 2013

FEELING GOOD BY DOING GOOD

It was one of those days when nothing seemed to be going right. I was stuck in my writing project and wondering whether I should abandon it altogether. I was experiencing some of the ordinary annoyances of everyday life with computer, phone, and the like. So I suddenly told myself that what I needed to do was to get out of myself and do something for someone else.

I had seen a notice about a website called “Create the Good,” which offers opportunities for volunteering in a wide variety of ways and at locations close to where you live. I went down the list and decided to sign up for a one-day commitment to help out a nonprofit organization called “The Bridge,” which helps vulnerable New Yorkers, including the homeless, people suffering with serious mental illness, substance abuse disorders, and HIV/AIDS. The Bridge needed volunteers at an opening at the Museum of Modern Art of paintings created by participants in its arts therapy program. As soon as I had signed up, I felt better.

I felt even better yesterday when I helped at the event. Along with a few other volunteers (all of whom young enough to be my granddaughters), I made little packages of fork, knife, and napkin; chatted with my fellow helpers; staffed the food table to keep it well-stocked and neat; answered questions from attendees and directed them to specific artworks; listened to speeches by some of the artists (one of whom said this was the first time he had ever spoken in public) and by the director of the arts therapy program, Judith Raskin Rosenthal. I was impressed by the program, by how much it had helped its participants, and by all the people who were making it work.

I came home completely satisfied that I had given my few hours to a most worthwhile cause – and put my own life into perspective. How lucky I am not to need the kind of help these people were getting! I have made many volunteer commitments in my life, and every time I serve others, I feel good about my own life. I’ll continue to look for additional ways in which I can help others – and by so doing, can help myself.

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