Dee is right about volunteer work. You will usually find that in helping others, you get back more than you give, even though that is not your intention.
I have had that happen a lot in serving on non-profit boards. When I was first going through my divorce in 1994 and was so depressed, I started going down to Girls Inc and just helping out in the afternoons when the girls would get there after school. I would help them with their home work or whatever needed to be done. A few months later I joined the Board of Directors. I still continued to volunteer several times a week.
Then I met this eight year old girl, Kera and we just bonded. Her mother was in prison and expecting her 5th child, all were by different fathers. Kera's maternal grandmother had custody of her and three other grandchildren and would not let the paternal grandmother who was a very nice lady have custody, because she was receiving a government check on all of the children. This grandmother would let Kera come and stay with me for days at a time without every even coming out to the car to meet me or knowing my name, phone number or where I lived. Kera and I spent time together for several years. She had her own room at my house. My girls were already grown and out of the house.
I can remember one day when we were at the park and I was pushing her in a swing and she jumped out and wanted to push me in a swing because she said she wanted me to have fun that day too. I also remember one day when I was taking her home, she asked me what I would have done if she had not spent the day with me.
The grandmother that Kera lived with was a drug dealer as was Kera's uncle who also lived in the house. Kera also told me that gun shots were fired at night and she would take her brothers and sisters and hide in a closet. Then one day she asked me to help get her out of her grandmother's home. Kera and I met with her teacher, guidance counselor and school principal. We also met with a police officer and I met with Social Services. The police officer told her some things to do if she got afraid while they were trying to get this all worked out. He then told her she was a very brave little girl. When Kera told him that she learned it all from Ms. Carla, it was all I could do to keep from breaking down and crying.
It wasn't long before Kera's grandmother somehow found out what was going on and would not let me see Kera and would not allow her to go to Girls Inc. I was really frightened for Kera. Back then I served on a large Mental Health board which covered a large part of our state. Before one of meetings, I went up to the CEO and explained the situation and asked how could we make Social Services do something. When he told me that we couldn't, I wanted to just start jumping up and down and screaming. I had told this little girl that I would help her and now I was up against a brick wall.
I lost touch with Kera for several years. I have never been happy to hear that someone has passed away, but I have to say I was not unhappy when I read in the newspaper that her grandmother had died.
I guess by this time her father had time to grow up and he has married a lady that Kera thinks of as her mother. Kera is now in her second year at the University of Louisville on a full scholarship. When I told her how proud I was of her, she told me it was because I taught her that she could do anything. She is so smart and so beautiful. I am as proud of her as I am of my two daughters and I can't wait to attend her graduation in a couple of years.
Aurora, I went into detail about this because I want you to know just how rewarding some volunteer work can be. This little girl gave me so much more than I ever gave her. I've served on a lot of boards and committees and I've done my share of volunteer work and I don't regret one moment of it. As a matter of fact, I've met a lot of people over the years this way. I think it would make you feel much better about yourself to be out there helping others in your community. It certainly helped me when I was at my lowest point with my depression.