For two years, I volunteered with a friend at the MSPCA-Angell Animal Care and Adoption Center in Jamaica Plain, MA. Our official title was Cat Cuddler and Condo Cleaner. I would still be volunteering there if I had not decided to move home to NY in September 2013 to be closer to and help out my elderly parents. Volunteering was such a personally fulfilling decision that I thought I would share and encourage you to do the same.
Life Changer #1: I nurtured relationships with those who shared my values
The best relationship that I cultivated during this period by far was the relationship I had with my friend Alicia, who had suggested we volunteer together. Every week, Alicia would drive to my house and pick me up. We would volunteer for 2-3 hours, and then she would drive me home. We started looking for places to have brunch together, and, after a few weeks, ate and Veggie Galaxy, a vegan/vegetarian diner which quickly became the only place we went to lunch.
We listened to each other, offered each other support, and made each other laugh. We shared a love of kitties, a love of our husbands and our families, and of volunteering. When she became pregnant with her daughter Claudia, I did all the cleaning and the litter for nine months so she could still volunteer. We seemed to have similar outlooks, philosophies, concerns, and ethics. I stayed with her for five days after Claudia was born to help them out. Now that I am in NY, we Skype so that I can get to know my niece and keep in touch with two of my best friends. From one close coworker, I’ve added another best friend and one niece to those I deeply care about.
Life Changer #2: I gave love, care, and medicine to countless homeless animals, which helped me, too
Caring for animals is a topic dear to my heart. Even so, I can only adopt so many. I live with three cats in a small space: Hunter, who is 17.5 years old; Gwendolyn, 2 yrs 3 mo; and Norman, 2 yrs 8 mo. Because so many animals need help to go from crisis to their forever home, I felt like I could do my part by volunteering. The more often I went and the more animals I helped, the happier I became. I was living out my values in ways that benefitted the animals first and myself second. Or maybe at the same time. It doesn’t really matter. I was able to give and receive joy and affection that lasted well beyond the few hours I was there.
No matter what your values are, I am sure there is an organization that could use your help. Don’t wait! Do it now. Your life will change for the better.