This week is National Volunteer Week National Volunteer Week, a program that was established in 1974 to inspire and encourage volunteerism in order to make an impact on society. Throughout the week, we have thanked our dedicated volunteers, shared some of the benefits of volunteering, and hopefully inspired others to share their hearts as volunteers. Thinking about the concept of volunteerism, I reminisced about what motivates me to give back and why it is important for me to share my passion for volunteering. I recall three distinct childhood memories from which I draw my motivation and commitment to volunteerism.
When I was about four years old, I accompanied my grandmother, Shigeko Fujihiro, every day when she volunteered at the Venice Japanese Community Center’s Senior Nutrition Program. She instilled in me the importance of giving back to the community and the concept of keiro or respect for older adults. It was grandma’s passion and dedication for helping others that implanted the importance of giving back, a key part of living a healthy and fulfilling life. Those fond childhood memories of serving lunch, playing bingo, and assisting with morning exercises became a prelude to a lifetime commitment to volunteerism and helping others.
Several years later, I joined the Boy Scouts and took an oath, which stated, “to help other people at all times.” Even before taking that oath, I had a similar mantra dating back to those days volunteering with my grandmother – it is the driving force that continues to guide me each day. It is what inspired me, and continues to inspire me, to do the work that I do for our community.
The third memory that inspires me to volunteer is a lifelong hero of mine. While there have been several heroes in my life, including my grandma, my all-time favorite hero is Superman (and if you have ever seen my office, it is very obvious). So, what is it about Superman? The cape? The big “S” which symbolizes “hope?” His ability to fly? For me, I think it is the genuine care for others and willingness to help those in need–to share his strengths and talents in order to make an impact on society. That is probably why I dressed like Superman quite often as a kid (complete with cape and boots), especially when going to the VJCC with Grandma. While not all of us are faster than a speeding bullet or have the ability to leap tall buildings, all volunteers have a unique talent or strength that they can contribute to society and there really is nothing stronger than the heart of a volunteer.
Today, I proudly work for Keiro, an organization that promotes volunteerism and I have the privilege of working with our dedicated group of amazing volunteers. In addition to my work at Keiro, I am fortunate to also volunteer with several organizations and programs in our community including serving on the board for Kizuna, supporting the East San Gabriel Valley Japanese Community Center, and continuing to be involved with the Boy Scouts of America. It is truly a rewarding feeling knowing that the time and energy I put in to supporting these organizations help them fulfill their mission and make a positive impact on society.
In closing, I want to share my favorite quote from the movie “Man of Steel,” when Jor-El (Superman’s father) says to him, “In time, you will help them accomplish wonders.” Volunteers have the abilities and dedication to make a difference and help our community accomplish wonders. It can be cleaning up a local park, spending time at an animal shelter, coaching youth basketball, or spending time connecting with older adults. No matter how small the gesture, think of the impact. Each and every one of us has the ability to be a hero, whether you wear a cape or not
What inspires you to volunteer? Please share in the comment section below.
To learn more about how you can become involved in our community, visit our website at www.keiro.org/volunteer
About the Author:
Brandon Masashige Leong is the Director of Community Advancement at Keiro. He graduated from the University of La Verne with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Organizational Management. Brandon stays genki by doing Bikram Yoga, snowboarding, hiking, and volunteering.
The material presented on this site is for informational purposes only and does not necessarily represent the opinions of Keiro, or its contributors. Readers should consult appropriate health, legal, or financial professionals on any matter relating to their health and well-being. Full disclaimer.