Volunteering, or The “V” word

When I reflect on my life, I’m fairly certain that the first good decision I ever made was when I was thirty-four and checked myself into treatment for drug and alcohol addiction.  But it wasn’t just staying sober that changed my life – it was my introduction to Alcoholics Anonymous.  You see, AA is a spiritual program and I hated all that God and prayer stuff.  Not only that, they told me if I wanted to stay sober I needed to help the newcomers and do ‘service work’.  What?  As a totally self-absorbed addict it was beyond the scope of my imagination to do anything besides try to stay sober.  Plus, I’ve never been one to do what other people think I ‘should’ or ‘need to’ do.  Guilt-tripping me doesn’t work.  I didn’t want to volunteer and no one could make me!

So I simply went to meetings and didn’t drink.  And those kind, truthful, annoyingly helpful people got through my thick skin and I willingly began the volunteering phase of my life.

As a bonus, I found that volunteering in Alcoholics Anonymous gave me far more than continued sobriety – I became part of a community and it felt so very wonderful to truly belong somewhere.  The more I helped in various ways, the better I felt about myself.  Other people’s welfare became important to me, as did the survival of my favorite meetings and the organization itself.  I had found a healthy place to hang out and grow and I didn’t want to lose it.

Fast forward thirty years:  That’s the same way I feel about CSLT.  I am so in love with my spiritual community!  During the two years I lived in Kanab, Utah, the thing I missed the most was my ‘people’, my ‘tribe’.  A year ago when I decided to leave Kanab I contemplated where in the world I wanted to live next – it was a short internal discussion.  I came home.

The ‘V’ word has become one of my greatest pleasures in life…yes, folks, I volunteer and I love it!  I care so much about CSLT and I want us to thrive for me and to be a major, positive force in Tucson, in Arizona!  So I give of my time.  I invest in my incredible community of like-minded souls who count on us to be here every Sunday.  At first I ushered – easy, infrequent, yet I had an opportunity to step outside of my comfort zone and greet everyone who came through the doors.   Then, against every argument to the contrary in my brain, I actually volunteered to be on the Host Team – to be on the stage all by myself and speak into a microphone to y’all!  And no one has boo’d me off yet.  But the biggest commitment (aargh, the ‘C’ word!) I’ve ever made is becoming a member of the Board of Trustees here at the center. I was scared; all those old voices in my head told me I wasn’t smart enough, good enough, educated enough, mellow enough.  But the sane part of me won and I decided to invest my time and energy in what I love and to become a part of the changes and growth I want to see happen around our center.

Yes, I am a volunteer and am richly rewarded in more ways than I have space to write about.  If you’re not yet a volunteer because you aren’t sure what you would like to do or what needs to be done, talk to me.  There are so many choices, some of which aren’t visible to the general congregation on Sundays.  Most ‘jobs’ take up very little of one’s time.  And it feels so freaking good!  I guarantee you’ll feel more a ‘part of’ because you’ve shared some of yourself with something that matters to you. If it worked for a tough case like me, surely it will work for you.

by Renee’ Mezzone

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