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Love Multiplied - Sonoma County Volunteer Center


Love Multiplied
Volunteer Center of Sonoma County 

By Donata Mikulik

Like falling in love, volunteering can take time to find ‘the one’ right match.  In this month of love, I often reflect on the love shared by all volunteers serving our community.  Working at the Volunteer Center, I love how volunteers find their true fit by trying out different opportunities, and once they find their true love, it radiates and abounds!  The Scottish poet Alexander Smith once said ‘Love is but the discovery of ourselves in others, and the delight in the recognition;’ and in volunteering we find our true love and ourselves.

Ruth Thomas, a community volunteer, stands out in my mind when I think of love, and sharing love through volunteerism.  Shortly after retiring, Ruth looked around her community for where she felt the need was greatest and found Senior Advocacy Services (S.A.S.), a local non-profit.  Moved by the work of ombudsman at S.A.S., Ruth got involved.  Ombudsmen are men and women who advocate for residents of nursing homes that are not able to advocate for themselves or don’t have family advocating for them.  Being an ombudsman can be difficult and emotional, yet very rewarding. As Ruth got more involved she also noticed another need.  Many of these seniors also don’t have anyone visiting them on holidays like Mother’s Day.  As a mother herself, she was bothered by the idea that several women may never receive a mother’s day wish.  A former florist, and now Board Member at S.A.S., she saw the opportunity to help brighten a Mother’s Day, while also raising funds and awareness for the important ombudsman program.  She spearheaded the Mother’s Day Flowers Project – raising funds for a program in need, while also providing 350 flower arrangements to seniors without visitors on Mother’s Day.  Her love for serving others has touched hundreds of lives and multiplied the love in our community.  

Like love, volunteer opportunities can come in unexpected places.  Whether it’s love at first sight or a love that grows, volunteering really is like searching for ‘the one.’  Even volunteers who find their opportunity of service through a judge’s order are spreading love and benefitting from volunteering while seeing how a negative activity can turn into a positive outcome.   One volunteer that recently came through our court-ordered community service program has a story of how mandated volunteering helped her break the cycle of addiction that held her back.  Through serving others she rediscovered her own worth.  As she told us “As I continued to show up each morning, I came to realize that others were depending on me. I thought my situation was bad,  but from serving meals to people  at the Soup Kitchen, I realized others had it worse than I did.  I knew it was time to make a difference.  Having the responsibility of completing my hours helped me stay clean and sober. After 200 hours I had an epiphany: I had originally gone in with the mentality that I was working for free but I was wrong. I was learning priceless life skills. I was becoming part of the Soup Kitchen family and most importantly, I was being paid by the rewarding feeling I had every day at the end of my shift.” She was right, and now she is employed at that very same non-profit.   

It’s pretty simple to say that volunteering changes lives, but it also spreads love in many ways.  It’s truly through the act of giving back that we receive love that grows over time.  Quoting Mother Theresa, ‘Love is a fruit in season at all times, and within the reach of every hand’ so go out and find that true Love!  

To learn more about volunteering please connect with us:

Volunteer Center of Sonoma County
153 Stony Circle, Suite 100 Santa Rosa 95401