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A few weeks ago my girlfriend, Anona, asked me if I would be interested in volunteering for a local arts festival, serving beer at one of the beverage tents. After attending a different festival in recent weeks, I thought it might be fun to be the guy yelling, “ICE COLD BEER!” It’s not something I would normally do, but nobody’s ever asked me either. I agreed and she booked us.
The event went as planned. I yelled loudly while passers by grinned and artists in the booths across from us laughed out loud. We served beer, soda, water, and a few other things for around 3 hours. Once our volunteer shift was over, we used the provided beverage tickets that we received (as thanks for signing up) to get ice cold beers of our own, and walked around to look at art. I even bought some in hopes that Anona would find a nice place to hang it in the house.
Afterward, we met a couple of friends for dinner and (good) beers at an Irish-style pub not too far away. When our friends heard that I volunteered for something they were surprised. They thought that it must have been a requirement of my job, and couldn’t imagine that I would do something like that. At that moment I felt misunderstood, however, I can understand why they might think that. I keep to myself. I don’t have many friends, and I don’t advertise my charity.
Part of the reason I’m sharing this story is to say that, while it may be typical for people to document their good deeds and post them on all the social media platforms, an act of charity shouldn’t be motivated by self-interest. I was guilty of that several years ago when I made a YouTube video about a charitable program I was starting. After the first video, I realized my error and removed it.
I didn’t bother explaining any of this to my friends because there’s really no good way to say it. Even writing this blog post feels smarmy. You don’t have to build a giant nonprofit to do good. You just have to get out there and do it. I’m not talking about volunteering for your local arts festival, although, I encourage doing that too. I’m talking about finding small ways you can help people when you notice they need it. That means being more aware of your surroundings, and the people that you come across. Don’t let anything stop you. You’ll only be paid in gratitude (sometimes), but wouldn’t you rather be remembered by the people that wanted to remember you because of your kindness than the faceless crowd on Facebook just looking for entertainment?
Thanks for reading, and feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments 🙂