Wow, my arms are sore! Yesterday Keith and I volunteered as side-walkers for Wings of Hope Equitherapy: http://www.wingsofhopehorses.org. WOH is a horse ranch where physically and mentally disabled kids and adults come to ride horses and improve their balance, spatial orientation, and improve cognitive function. We walked along side one little girl, holding her in the saddle, walking with Charlie Brown, a gorgeous chocolate brown pony, our arms straining to keep her up straight. What a workout! But the smiles were totally worth it. We helped the kids dunk a basketball from horseback, clapping and cheering them on. And the boys were so excited to have a guy there volunteering. They showed off for Keith, waving, and checking to be sure he was watching their triumphs. We had a wonderful time.
Keith asked me last night, "I wonder why the volunteers are all girls?" And it poses a very interesting question. In my field of work, most of my colleagues are women. And there is a huge need for men in the care giving business. Maybe it's the money, or the lack of recognition? (God knows it could be better.) Or maybe it is something that is simply ingrained in women- a maternal instinct- to be caregivers? I'd be interested to find out. But more importantly, I wonder how I could reach out to encourage men to volunteer at places like WOH, where the young boys and older veterans would love to have a man to talk with? It is pretty hard to describe the rewards from volunteer work. How can I describe the smiles and laughter, and gentle nuzzles from Charlie Brown? Words seem to fail me at this point. You really cannot know until you try it. But if you have ever felt like there is something missing in your life, or that you could use a cleansing from the complications of every day- a feeling that comes from hard work and helping another person, then give it a try. You won't regret it.