Unless you’ve been living under a rock you’d know that the Lehigh Valley is home to some truly great community festivals. I’m fortunate to live where I do and to be able to have so many great experiences available to me each year. As I was growing up I patronized most of them and came to find some must have experiences that without them, my year just wouldn’t be complete.
I’m not exactly sure when the volunteering bug bit me, but I would have to say that it was some time in college. A free t-shirt and a slice of pizza and you could get me to do just about anything. Working with fantastic groups of people and getting to see the behind the scenes portions of events that I’d previously only attended kept me interested and encouraged me to look for opportunities to help out in the community beyond the bubble of college.
I wouldn’t say that I’m addicted to volunteering, but I am definitely a serial volunteer. I continue to be active with my alma mater, now serving as the President of the Penn State Lehigh Valley Alumni Society, but now I’m involved with Mayfair, Musikfest and this fall I’ll be volunteering with the Celtic Classic. Through the connections I’ve made through social media I’ve been able to participate in Adopt-A-Highway and community cleanups in Nazareth and Bethlehem and while maybe not volunteering in the traditional sense, I also donate blood every eight weeks at Miller-Keystone Blood Center. I’m always on the lookout for new ways and places I can help. Maybe Easton needs volunteers for something. I’ve already got Allentown and Bethlehem on my radar…
I used to think that I was a sucker for giving up my free time to an ever growing list of activities, but now that I think about it more closely, I’m not helping out because I feel a sense of obligation, I’m doing it because it just feels right. Some would say that it’s great that I’m giving back to the community, but I don’t see it as giving back, I see it as giving. It’s who I am. Yes, I give to the community because it helps others, but it also makes me feel good.
At just about any event that is even partially run by volunteer help, you’ll hear someone come on the microphone and ask that the audience give a round of applause for the volunteers. Without the help of volunteers, most of the events taking place throughout the community just wouldn’t happen. Instead of waiting for an announcement, take a moment to thank someone for being a volunteer at the event you’re enjoying, and if you had a good time as a patron this year, look into ways that you can help next year. You’ll not only help sustain the event in the future, but if you’re like me, you’ll find that you get a new level of appreciation and enjoyment when you’re back as a guest.