Unearthing a Vonnegut treasure during National Volunteer Week.
Aha! Moments Stories

Unearthing a Vonnegut treasure during National Volunteer Week.

Kurt Vonnegut writes a letter to JFK

Hey, it’s National Volunteer Week! Thought I’d share one of my favourite examples of servant leadership (and then a handful more below). While it seems Kurt never received a reply, his heart was in the right place, and he sure was humble 🙂 “On occasion, I write pretty well.” (And yes, he actually did write this letter. Archivist Stacey Chandler stumbled across it when she was combing through files at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston. Vonnegut was 38 at the time, and still a struggling writer.)

You don’t have to be big to make a difference. You don’t need a lot of money, or time, or any special skills. And believe me when I tell you that you get a whole lot more back than you ever really give!

I love volunteering for a bunch of reasons. It gets me out there meeting new people (especially people who share my interests and values). I’ve learned some cool new skills. It lets me pay it forward for the countless things people have generously invested in me. My mum and dad were living examples of how easy it was to get out there and do something that made a difference in the community and how you really were helping yourself along the way.

Some folks may feel inspired to help, but are crazy busy. The great thing is you can do it even if you don’t have a lot of time! Shovel snow for an older neighbour when you’re doing your own (though I hope we’re done with the snow for this year!). Donate some plants to a community garden project when you’re putting in your own, and maybe even get out there and get your hands dirty with the folks doing the same. You don’t need any special skills to help, and there’s something each of us has that we love to do, that can be of use to others.

Want to see just how easy it is, and how much fun it can be?

If you’re in the Windsor-Essex area, pop over here:


WEvolunteer.ca is the official database of volunteer opportunities for Windsor and Essex County. They can match you to the opportunities fit you best. You might be surprised at just how many interesting things there are to do, and cool people to meet!

Another Canadian resource?


Like working with kids? Check out opportunities to be a mentor at the YMCA:


or Big Brothers and Sisters:


We’ve all been touched somehow by cancer, whether personal, or through a loved one or friend. Why not help at Hospice?


Love to cuddle? Check out your hospital’s local neo-natal or maternity unit, where volunteering means curling up into a rocking chair with a newborn in your arms. Or maybe the local Humane Society, where cuddling involves things that are small and furry 🙂


Donate Your Time: Volunteer

You can even be a “Book Buddy” and read to kids at the local library, like my big-hearted friend Mike Barat does:


Handy with your hands? Why not spend a day helping build a home with Habitate for Humanity? Even Jimmy Carter did it right here in Windsor, Ontario a few years back!


There are other resources that have been around since the web was shiny and new. One of my favourites is this:


You can even volunteer as a family! If you’re in the U.S., dig in here:


What are your favourite ways to pay it forward in your community (local or abroad)?



Adventure diva, geek, artist & storyteller. Practitioner of wishcraft. Cooks with visual soul pepper. (You had me at string theory ...)

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