The volunteer organization I have the opportunity to serve with is called Soroptimist International of Tampa. Soroptimist is a global women’s organization whose members volunteer to improve the lives of disadvantaged women and girls through programs leading to social and economic growth. There are clubs in over 120 countries around the world.
I became aware of this organization a few years ago when I was working to complete my bachelor’s degree. This organization focuses their scholarships on supporting women. One of the advisors at my college handed me a Soroptimist scholarship application along with many others when I went in seeking assistance with funding. I was in my last semester of college and I was desperate to get funding so that I didn’t have to stop attending school.
To my surprise, a few months later, I was awarded two scholarships from the stack of applications my advisor had given me. One of them was from Soroptimist International of Tampa. I attended the awards banquet they held and received my scholarship award. It was at this banquet that I was able to learn more about this service organization.
Fast forward about four years, I had graduated from undergrad and graduate school. I had begun my career as an educator. As an educator, I see so many families in need and that prompted me to seek out ways to get involved in my community outside of my typical work day. I thought back to that service organization that once helped me, found their contact information and eventually joined the group.
That was about ten years ago. Today, I am the current president of our Tampa Chapter and I have learned so much about volunteer service. The needs of our communities are growing beyond things like homelessness, poverty and food. The need for service volunteers is great as well.
Through my service with Soroptimist I have become very aware of Human Trafficking. This particular issue is a very scary one and it affects all communities no matter the socio-economic status. Yesterday, I was able to participate in the Light up the Night 5K/1Mile Walk to raise awareness of Human Trafficking. Many of our children are at risk. Just a few months ago, the city where I live was ranked third in the country for children being trafficked. We are now second. This issue is so important, just like so many other issues around our country.
I am so passionate about my volunteer service. If there is an issue or cause that tugs at your heart, I encourage you to find a local volunteer service program that supports it. The more we can help, the more we can raise awareness, the more we can keep each other safe and give each other a hand up. For me, just a few hours of service gives me an opportunity to stop focusing on my own problems and see my life for what it really is…not that bad at all. When we can focus on others we can see the bigger picture much clearer. There are others in the world, in our country and right in our communities that are hurting and in much greater need than we are. We may not solve all the problems in a day but let’s do what we can to help and support each other.