By Sharon O’Flaherty, Chair of the Board of Joseph House of Cleveland
A study published a few years ago in the Journal of Happiness Studies (yes, there is such a thing!) examined data from 70,000 people over an 18 year period regarding volunteering habits, mental health, distress and functioning in every day life. The conclusion was that not only does volunteering make us happier- it can also improve our mental health over time.
Recently we asked our own volunteers what their favorite part of volunteering at Joseph House is and whether there was any person or experience that had a special impact on them. We are grateful and humbled by our dedicated crew and honored to share with you what they had to say, in their own words.
FAVORITE PART OF VOLUNTEERING AT JOSEPH HOUSE
“The joy and gratitude experienced by most of our shoppers. The great teamwork amongst the volunteers. The ongoing generosity of our donors is impressive and truly helps those in need in our community.”
“Always having something to do and feeling like I am helping those in need. My favorite part is seeing the smiles on the kids’ faces when you give them a toy or a bike."
- Marty F.
“Meeting the people who come into Joseph House, both the refugees and the local residents. Working with other volunteers. We learn about our clients families and their lives. They are so grateful for the help they find at Joseph House."
- Georgia D.
“Helping the beautiful refugee children shop for clothes.”
- Kathy D.
“It’s gratifying to help people who have almost nothing. With the Afghan families I’ve met, I’ve never seen gratitude like this before, especially from the fathers. It was pure, emotional and unashamed. I received God’s grace, even from the small role I had in helping these families. It’s a wonderful feeling.”
"Helping refugees, especially the children, find clothing, shoes and toys that
make their eyes light up!”
- Mary W.
“Helping clients find whatever it is they are looking for. The children are the most interesting because they are always willing to try something different and are
most appreciative of everything.”
- Diane M.
A PERSON OR EXPERIENCE THAT HAD A SPECIAL IMPACT ON YOU
“There was a young girl from a refugee family that I shopped with one day who really touched my heart. Although she did not speak English, we connected through smiles and her animated responses when we found clothing choices especially to her liking... I still think of this girl and her family fondly and cherish the kiss she blew as they left.”
- Mary W.
“I was fitting a refugee boy with tennis shoes. Since he usually wore sandals, he had no idea how to tie the laces. I sat down with him on the floor and showed him just one time. After that, he successfully tied the laces himself. The smile on his face was over the top! We ended up high fiving each other.”
- Joan L.
“After a busy afternoon helping four refugee families shop, one of the fathers approached Maureen, our Director of Operations, and me, saying “Thank you”, one of the few English phrases he knows so far in his short time here. He then started typing on a cellphone we had been using with a translation app that day. I saw the characters of the words he was typing in his native language, and then a voice came through the phone: “Thank you, thank you, thank you! God bless you and God bless America.”
- Sharon O.
“We had some saris donated by a Temple and the Afghan women were so excited to see a style of clothing with which they were familiar. They often, through gestures, asked if they could have more than one. When we said yes, they were thrilled.”
- Diane M.
“I was making a delivery on a Saturday morning when a truck pulled up behind me. A man got out of the truck with many 20 gallon bags of clothes and shoes to donate. His wife had passed away a while ago and he had finally gotten around to going through her things. What made this special was that he said his wife had been a refugee who came through Joseph House years ago. He said he knew she would have wanted all her things to go to Joseph House.”
Joseph House volunteers recognize that through our work we are given a unique opportunity. We extend a helping hand at the same time we allow our own hearts to be touched by the beautiful people we meet. We like to remember Mother Teresa’s words “Do small things with great love.”