For Tara, volunteering is not a one-time thing or even a couple-times-a-year thing, volunteering is a lifestyle. Tara has been volunteering with Extreme Community Makeover for two years, and out of the two years, one year on the Logistics Team. The Logistics Team is a good fit for Tara because she loves food prep, organizing, and volunteer check-in is a blast getting to meet new people.
Tara has been volunteering since high school. She learned the value of volunteering while helping out the Health Occupation Students of America. This first volunteer experience taught her that volunteering is fun and makes you feel good knowing you are making a tangible difference in people’s lives. “Volunteering has made me realize that whatever I have going on in my life is not that important. It gives you a new perspective,” admits Tara.
Since Tara’s first volunteer experience, she’s been hooked! No matter how busy life can be, Tara always makes her volunteer time a priority. “People forget how good it feels and how rewarding it is. You either make time or you don’t. It’s a part of having a fulfilling life,” she expresses. Volunteering is her lifestyle.
Tara believes ECM is special because it helps people with a tangible need and in return also fulfills a big picture need. “Automatically you see a sense of pride the homeowner has when getting help on a project,” says Tara. A homeowner seems to be transformed to the pride they had when they first purchased the home, as well as a sense of relief realizing people really do care. In the big picture, ECM is transforming neighborhoods, and strengthening the communities in the neighborhoods it serves. ECM is getting the conversation started, neighbor amongst neighbor and volunteer amongst volunteer.
One conversation Tara fondly remembers is with a homeowner who recently underwent chemo for her cancer. She was sad that she did not have the energy to keep up her garden because it really gave her a lot of joy. “I cleaned up the patio, dusted the chairs, put pavers back where they needed to go. That way, she could have a comfortable outdoor space and enjoy her garden,” remembers Tara.
There is no doubt in Tara’s mind that helping out people, in what seems a small way, gives people a big return. The small stuff really is the big stuff! “I think the biggest reason people don’t volunteer is because it’s not talked about enough. People just don’t think about it year-round,” she passionately explains.
ECM encourages you to share your story. If you’ve had a positive experience with volunteering, like Tara, get out there and tell you friends and family about it. Express to them the huge need for volunteers, how much fun it is, how you can change a life in a big way, and how getting out of the box truly is fulfilling and allows you to experience the world in a new way and gives you an opportunity to meet new people!