What motivates a person to volunteer?

Over the past year, I have helped run most of the volunteer nights we've held in our Madison office. In that time I've met many different volunteers from all walks of life. I've worked with everyone from retired seniors to single mothers to high school students. I always find it fascinating to learn what it was that motivated each of them to come in to volunteer.

Last night, during our regular Tuesday volunteer night, I took a few moments to walk around and ask folks what brought them in to volunteer. The responses were as varied as the people.

One volunteer, a lawyer named Jeff, said that he started volunteering because he thought it was disgusting to see our state constitution tampered with to deny rights to citizens. Another told me that she started coming because she didn't think that the government should be in the business of telling people who they can fall in love with. Another volunteer, who recently moved here from Florida to escape intolerance in that state, said that he started volunteering with us to ensure that Wisconsin remains the fair and tolerant place that it is. One of our captains, Tim, echoed that sentiment when he told me that he initially volunteered because he wanted to make sure that Wisconsin remained a progressive forerunner on issues of rights and values.

Of all the people I spoke with last night there was one volunteer who I identified with more than others. He told me that he had just finished the difficult process of coming out and wanted to get involved to help other LGBT people.

When I first started volunteering here I had just emerged from my own coming out struggle. Aside from providing a wonderful opportunity to meet new people, volunteering also provided me a way to help ease the process of growing up gay in Wisconsin for future generations. If any of these reasons resonate with you, or if you have reasons of your own not listed here, I encourage you to share them on our blog, or--better yet--sign up to volunteer with Fair Wisconsin in your community.

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