This post is dedicated to the innumerable volunteers who give so much of themselves to serve others. Sometimes it is a thankless and unappreciated service. There are times when we have to get ready to go out serve when we’re tired and have so many other things calling for attention in our lives and we wonder if it’s worth continuing because we have no idea whether or not we’re making a difference. Once in a great while God allows us to see the difference we’re making or have made.
One of the volunteer positions I served in was called Read Fur Fun at our local library. We would bring our therapy dogs on a Saturday morning, the children would pick a book and read it to the dog of their choice. One Saturday our time was up, but I saw a young boy who had that “love at first sight” look when he saw Buster Brown, so we lingered. Tommy (not his real name) was developmentally challenged and wanted to know why a dog was in the library. We explained the program to him and he started to get a book, when he was told we were done for the day, but he could sign up for next month. He eagerly looked at his mom. She was the kind of mom who was doing everything she possibly could to help her son.
A month later Tommy came and slowly read to Buster Brown, his finger under each word. His mom was trying to get him to put more feeling in to his reading, but Buster Brown listened attentively nevertheless. As they were leaving, his mom said, “He practiced every day for the last month so he could read to the dog”. Tears came to my eyes and I never forgot him. I looked for him each time we went, but he was involved in several other therapeutic programs and didn’t make it back to the library.
It’s been five or six years since that Saturday. I was at the library this afternoon for a performance of Old Time Radio Players. I recognized Tommy at the counter as soon as I saw him. He came to the show and sat in the front row. The performers asked for two volunteers to read from the scripts for the next skit. Tommy was the first to volunteer and I admit I cringed a bit – some of the old time radio shows were rather fast-paced. His turn came and he had no problem following the script or reciting his lines. His expressiveness was much better than it was years ago. I was so proud of him!
I was also very touched to have been a minute part of his progress, and grateful to God for allowing me to see a glimpse of what we encouraged. Don’t give up. Don’t doubt your effectiveness. Keep volunteering!