Seeking Happiness? Try Volunteering

When charities most need money, they get less.  When the stock market goes south in recessions, so does philanthropical giving.  However, as reported in Time magazine by Nancy Gibbs, there is a bright side to this. She writes, “Americans may have less money – charitable giving in current dollars dropped for the first time in 20 years in 2008 – but about a million more people volunteered their time to a cause.”   She goes on to point out that the 8 of the 10 happiest states in the counrty also come in first in the top 10 for volunteering. She says money can buy comfort, but not contentment, that happiness correlates more with our connections and causes than with how much money we have.

Don deRoche, Red Cross Disaster Chair, holding the Dan Reed Rotary Service Above Self Trophy

That brings me to a man who must have discovered that a long time ago, because he has been giving a lot of his time to the Red Cross over the years.  Don deRoche is a retired Army major and civil service worker, who is now the Diasaster Chairman for the Red Cross in the Columbus area.  When disaster hits, he goes to the scene, determines what aid is needed and reports it to the Red Cross, which then goes to work supplying disaster relief. He does it for nothing but the satisfaction  of helping people when things go  very bad for them.

And he doesn’t do it just in our area.  Recently he went to Macon when a tornado struck there, and he went to Atlanta when flooding caused a lot of hardship for a lot of people.

There were tears in his eyes when he went up to accept the Rotary Club of Columbus’ Dan Reed Rotary Service Above Self Award.  The former Infantry combat veteran who served in the Vietnam War is passionate about helping people laid low by disasters.  He said that he went out to the site of a home that had been destroyed in Columbus a few nights ago. The resident of that destroyed home had no money to take a taxi to get to a shelter for the night. deRoche said that he reached into his own pocket and gave the man taxi fare, explaining that the Red Cross doesn’t give aid in that form.  He said that he was happy to do it. The club gives the award to one person each  year who has perfomed outstanding service for the Columbus community.  Club President Bob Jones said, “Columbus needs more people like Don deRoche.”  The world needs more people like Don deRoche.

Maybe you are thinking, do you practice what you preach?  Well, I do some volunteer work for some causes I support, but I am certainly not in the league with Don deRoche. Maybe I should do more. Maybe I will. It does provide satisfaction because I think Nancy Gibbs got it right when she said connections and causes correlate more with happiness than our net worth.

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One Response to “Seeking Happiness? Try Volunteering”

  1. Virginia Peebles Says:

    Dick, As always, I enjoyed reading “dicksworld,” especially your recent article concerning Don deRoche, the receipient of the Dan Reed Award at the Rotary Club of Columbus. He is an inspiration to us all and truly puts Service Above Self.

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