Ah, did you think I meant money? Of course not.
It was better than money.
My husband and I just spent the weekend helping to run a pre-marriage course for engaged couples. It included pretty much every aspect of their hopes and dreams for their lives together and covered things from sex to budgeting to resolving arguments fairly.
We do this a couple of times a year and it is volunteer work. I'm often a bit anxious in the week before, not about the weekend so much but organising the babysitting arrangements and getting the house and things in order beforehand.
But once I get into the car with my husband and we head out to the conference centre, all that is forgotten. I get to leave my normal life for a while and become immersed in the life of a typical soon-to-be-wed couple; their hopefulness, their excitement, their plans, their frustrations, their questions, and their own wisdom about relationships and life.
We reflect together. Mostly we hope together, and hope is such a powerful thing.
At the end of the weekend we wish them well and soon forget most of their faces and names, but some we remember. Some are real characters and I'll probably remember them for ever.
Some love stories really stand out. Like the couple who met speed-dating. Or the teacher who fell in love with the single parent of one of her pupils.
I always come away a little bit refreshed, and a little more appreciative of my own husband, my own ever-unfolding love story.
I think the best kinds of work are often not paid. Do you volunteer sometimes? Is there some kind of volunteer work you always meant to get around to trying out but never did?
Here are what I think are some the main benefits of volunteering:
- You gain a sense of belonging to and the satisfaction of helping a good cause
- You meet people with similar interests, make new friends
- You see life from different perspectives and meet people you wouldn't normally come across in your regular daily life
- You learn new skills, some which may assist you in your paid work
- You gain a greater appreciation for what you have in your own life