"We make a living by what we do, but we make a life by what we give."
Winston Churchill was onto something there, imagine that. Day in and day out we fulfill our obligations to our work. Yet who would define themselves solely by that obligation?
I would have to say, "Hi! I'm Sarah and I'm a teacher/naturalist." How tragic it would be if that's all I could say. What I do pales in comparison to the person I am, which is defined by what I can offer the world.
Photo from Audubon archive
A group of dedicated volunteers keep the buildings and grounds up and running
Perhaps Erma Bombeck stated it best, "Volunteers are the only human beings on the face of the Earth who reflect this nation's compassion, unselfish caring, patience, and just plain love for one another." Now, that's a life.
Volunteers are the heart and soul of this country. This country was founded on the goodwill of people - when one neighbor would help the other simply because he needed help. Whether it be building a barn, making jam, harvesting crops, watching the kids, or taking care of a sick friend, people have stepped up for centuries in extraordinary ways to lend a hand, a heart or their time.
It seems like the world moves in a flurry these days, everyone rushing here and there to get something done that urgently needs doing. I think we've gotten so caught up in our blur of existence that we've forgotten to spend time doing things that give back. Personally, and I can't speak for you, I don't get energized by grocery shopping or paying bills. But I've noticed that when I offer to help someone at work with a task she's swamped with, it gives me more satisfaction than whittling away at my to-do list. That then gives me energy to tackle my own problems. That act of giving is empowering, it's energizing. That's because the selfless act of giving always gives back in spades.
Yes, yes, this is a plea. Audubon has some upcoming events and we need help - lots of it. We're re-launching the art festival at Audubon, though in a new and hopefully improved way. As always, Audubon depends on volunteers to host these events. Our staff is out of this world, but it's small and we can't give events to the community without your help.
Alright, so maybe you haven't been to Audubon, or you don't have a strong connection to Audubon, or maybe you aren't even interested in Audubon and you're thinking, "Why should I volunteer for them?" Oh, let me sing our praises a little bit.
We reach more than 10,000 school kids every year and connect them to the natural world in a way they've never been connected. We answer countless calls about orphaned or injured wildlife and teach people how to live more in harmony with the lives around them. We provide sanctuary to the plants and animals that live on our 600 acres. We also provide sanctuary to the human visitors that walk our trails.
We host meetings of sportsman's clubs and yoga classes and weddings and church services. It is a coveted place for birthday parties and we are booked most weekends. So even if you personally may not value Audubon and what it does, a friend, a family member or your neighbor does. So by giving time to Audubon and its efforts, you're giving back something to your friends, families and neighbors.
What can you do? Tons, and I mean that. There are positions open in every category - parking, children's activities, bake sale, admissions, greeting, maintenance, clean-up, tear-down. You name it, we've got it. So even if nature isn't your thing, there's plenty to do other than that. The actual festival, Art in the Woods, is Aug. 9 and 10, from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. on Saturday and 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. on Sunday. Look for another article that will explain all the goings-on of the festival soon.
There are more volunteer opportunities as well, for Run for Liberty in September and Enchanted Forest in October. Take the time to give back and you'll be amazed at the life you create.
Call us at 569-2345 for more information or visit www.jamestownaudubon.org or www.jamestownaudubon.wordpress.com to get up-to-date events and schedules. The trails and Liberty viewing are open dawn to dusk, daily. The building is open 10 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. daily, except Sundays, when we open at 1 p.m. We look forward to seeing you!
Sarah Hatfield is a naturalist at Audubon and is also a gardener, hiker, volunteer, writer and more.