By Georgean C. Johnson-Coffey, Contributor
Serving as Eckhart Public Library’s Coordinator of Volunteer Services since March, Georgean is a national consultant and trainer in the areas of nonprofit management and volunteer involvement.
For the United States, April 21-27 is National Volunteer Week. A commitment to volunteering takes place in real-life and in fiction.
The Volunteer, by Crystal Hickerson is a fictional account of hospice volunteering. Jenna Steele, whose mother died in hospice, is compelled to give back, so she decides to volunteer with the hospice service. If you ever wanted to know what it would be like to volunteer for hospice, this novel will take you behind the scenes and give you an inside peek into the real world of hospice volunteering. Not only will you discover the highs and lows of a volunteer, but also the often unseen world of the managers who supervise them.
One of the major characters is a manager of volunteer resources for the hospice service. He is handsome, divorced man to whom the young, single heroine volunteer, Jenna Steele, is very attracted. The feeling is mutual and, without being a spoiler, the twists and turns of the story lead to many places, including love.
In Gracie’s Girl by Ellen Wittlinger, if you ask main character, Bess Cunningham, what matters most to her, volunteering will not be at the top of her list. It’s bad her mother volunteers at a community soup kitchen, which Bess resents, but her best friend, Ethan, wants to volunteer there, too. When an opportunity to work on the school musical arises, Bess must decide what’s more important to her: popularity or being there for the people who need her.
Learning to Give from the Point of Light Foundation and generationON has a wonderful Philanthropic Literature resource. There are ten lessons that use literature as a starting point, and students discuss the purpose and benefits of sharing and caring for others. They use the vocabulary of philanthropy. In books and in their personal experiences, they are able to identify and compare examples of tolerant and intolerant behavior. They will discuss the relationship between good personal conduct/honesty and a civil society.
Volunteering is alive in fiction. Volunteering is alive in everyday real-life. As we celebrate National Volunteer Week, consider volunteering as a part of your real-life!