The Many Values of Volunteering

We began house and pet sitting in British Columbia, Canada when our rural home unexpectedly sold a couple of years prior to my retirement. Luck was with us as a long-term house sit became available through word-of-mouth and we enjoyed settling in and staying in touch with the homeowners. A variety of short-term pet and house sits with friends and/or acquaintances followed. Starting like this helped to build references and a profile. We found we could have animals in our life and feel the coziness and responsibility of a home while meeting new people and travelling to new places.
Soon enough retirement came, everything we owned was sold as we moved to our condominium in Mexico. We did not know anyone and while the days passed, we needed something more. Then we saw an ad on a local Facebook page with a non-profit agency looking for volunteers.
We discovered the satisfaction of volunteering for spay and neuter clinics. It is hard work for three days, but to see the patience of people waiting in line to have their animals cared for; to know that there will be fewer animals living on the streets; and to be able to comfort animals as they wake from anesthetic is worth every minute.
While this experience took a lot of time, it felt like valuable time. It felt like we were giving back; it gave us a chance to meet people of a variety of ages who had a common interest; it helped us to be more physically active on those days.
While we have a condo now, its our goal to rent it out and to travel as much as we can. This nomadic lifestyle makes it hard to have meaningful experiences in community, but as we read another ad for a service club needing volunteers, we realized that organizations rooted in community are often needing short-term help. When we contacted them, we were welcomed with open arms. We donated time to paint concrete in a donated neighborhood park to liven it up and became involved in helping the new recycle group.
Some of the volunteering we do helps us to utilize skills that we developed over a lifetime of work and other volunteering is just ‘grunt’ work – getting something done to benefit others. All of it is valuable. All of it is satisfying. And now that we know how and where to find opportunities, we know that it will enrich future house and pet sitting and travel experiences.

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