Friday, May 23, 2014

Giving Back

Giving back is so important. I've always believed this and try to instill this value in my son. With our busy lives, however, it can be difficult to find time to volunteer, and if you are like me, you want to give back in more ways than just writing a check (though that is a good way and always needed!)

Several years ago, I took my son along to meetings concerning a stretch of land that was being proposed for two purposes: left as green space in the form of a park, or developed into a plaza of strip malls with parking lot. It would have been prime commercial property, and there were many meetings and gatherings. We attended as many as we could. My son was much younger and not always keen to sit through them, but I tried to express to him how important it was we were there. We were speaking up for nature, for green space in our world, something very important to us both.

We always feel a sense of loss when we pass woods being cut down for purpose of subdivisions and more shopping plazas. It is helpless feeling but this was one way we could fight back. In the end, our votes mattered and the land was slated to remain green space and become a new park (yaaay!)

Fast forward several years, and we are beginning to see the park developing and it's very exciting. Even more exciting that we get to be a park of it through volunteering!

There is so much work to be done. This week, my son and I got to be a part of that work, much of which consisted simply of hauling logs and branches from surrounding areas to a designated spot so they could be carried away by machines later. This was good, physical labour, outside in the warm air, natural exercise in the outdoors, which is the best in my book. I love it!  My son was eager to get started, but after a half hour or so of hard work, he was sweaty, tired, and ready for a break.

I reminded him again why we were there, why it is so important to give back and spend time in service, especially when that service is for something near and dear to your heart. I don't believe giving back should be about boosting one's ego or padding one's resume. I believe it is important to simply 'put our money where our mouth is' when it comes to how we spent our time and energy. I remind my son that we can't just talk about how nature and green space are important to us, we have to be willing to sometimes work for it. Fight for it, even. We have to be willing to spend our time and energy making sure what is important to us survives, and thrives. We have to be willing to show we care about nature by our actions, not just our words.

At the end of our work time, I felt great from good exercise outdoors and also had enjoyed a nice conversation with a co-volunteer who is on the board of directors for the park planning. She also asked my son many questions about what he thought should be available in the park for children to enjoy. It was so nice to hear how the plans for the new park are coming together and expected to unfold. It was a lot of hard work in warm temperature lining up branches and logs, but worth it, as meaningful volunteer work should be. 

It means so much to me that my son is a willing part of the work, too. As I wrote in another blog last year, there is no such thing as doing small things to take care of the environment as every effort helps, and it is so important to involve children in taking care of nature so they learn to care about the environment, too. It's also important to teach them the value and beauty of service, of doing something with no regard to personal gain, but simply giving of one's time and energy to help someone else - in this case, Mother Nature!

 I look forward to more volunteer days with my son at the new park and seeing how it all comes together! If you are local reader and would like to get involved, or you just would like to learn more and also see photos, plans, etc. click here.

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