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Third Highland Lakes Volunteer Meetup is May 26

The third Highland Lakes Volunteer Meetup is May 26.

MARBLE FALLS — I could hear the exasperation in my son Zach’s voice as he muttered, “Are we done? When can we go home?”

It was a Saturday morning, and we were volunteering at the Community First! Village in southeast Austin. Our assignment wasn’t glamorous, just picking weeds. Zach wasn’t expecting to spend a Saturday morning — his day off — doing outdoor chores.

We — my wife, Sheri, and our sons, Luke and Zach — were taking part in one of our church’s Family Mission Days. A group of us met at church that Saturday at about 8 a.m. for a short worship service before heading to various locations. Ours was Community First! Village, which offers the homeless and people in other dire situations a place to start over.

At the village, which is run by Mobile Loaves and Fishes, we signed in along with four other church families and got our assignment. A gentleman named Allen wearing an old straw cap aged by the sun led us to our spots. Among the RVs set up for some of the people trying to get their lives on track grew a number of small trees.

All we needed to do, Allen said, was pull weeds in the small beds around the trees.

Picking weeds is not high on the list of things to do on a Saturday for an 8-year-old kid.

But we weren’t there just picking weeds, Sheri calmly explained to Zach, we were serving others.

It goes to the heart of volunteerism, and Amber Weems’s reason for the monthly Highland Lakes Volunteer Meetups. Weems, the publisher of The Picayune and general manager of KBEY 103.9 FM Radio Picayune, started the meetups more than two months ago with planning and behind-the-scenes efforts.

The third Highland Lakes Volunteer Meetup is Saturday, May 26, starting at 9 a.m. at Numinous Coffee Roasters, 715 RR 1431 in Marble Falls. We’ll gather there before heading out to one of three Highland Lakes charitable nonprofits: Candlelight Ranch, the Phoenix Center, and a third organization still to be determined. A goal of the meetups is to give local nonprofits and volunteers a chance to meet and learn about each other. As volunteers, we may tentatively approach an organization wondering what they expect of us.

Are they looking for a longterm commitment or special skills? What if we commit and realize the nonprofit just isn’t a fit for us? That happens, and it’s nothing to be ashamed of.

The Highland Lakes Volunteer Meetups offer a chance to check out several charitable nonprofits, hear their missions, and even lend a hand for a few hours one Saturday morning. It’s sort of a like a wine tasting during which you sample a few before committing to buying a bottle.

You don’t have to make a donation or commit to several hours a week, or even a month, but you get to make a difference for a few hours that Saturday morning.

For me, though, these volunteer opportunities give me a chance to teach my sons about the importance of helping others. My mom and dad often “dragged” me and my brother, Jeff, along to various volunteer events when we were kids. I don’t think they called them volunteer or mission projects; they were just things you did for other people.

I learned a lot about helping others that way. Yes, I learned the importance of caring for people through Sunday school, church, and the Bible, but it was through my parents’ volunteering that I witnessed it in action. My mom and dad helped others without any expectations of thanks or acknowledgment.

As we moved from tree to tree, Zach and the rest of us weren’t just pulling weeds, we were serving others. Sure, Sheri and I could explain that to Zach or teach him the importance of volunteering, but showing leaves a bigger impression on kids.

By the end of our three or four hours at Community First! Village, Zach asked when we were coming back, though he thought he’d prefer working in the garden or with the goats the next time.

If you’re looking for a way to introduce your kids to volunteering, why not join The Picayune and KBEY along with hosts Kathy and Alex Payson of Numinous for the next Highland Lakes Volunteer Meetup? A few hours of volunteering can do wonders for the community and your family.

Sign up in advance at 101HighlandLakes.com/MEETUP. Go to 101HighlandLakes.com/VOLUNTEER for more volunteer opportunities in the Highland Lakes.

daniel@thepicayune.com

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