Why I Chose to work as a Volunteer for an Entire Year

I live in a world of abundance, where more is more and less is…why would you want less? Yet, I knew I could do more with less (fewer possessions and things in return).

Not that I am referring to being in need; for I have learned to be content with whatever I have. I know what it is to have little, and I know what it is to have plenty. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being well-fed and of going hungry, of having plenty and of being in need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:11-13)

With the luxury of getting to choose my post-college options, and even travelling a bit after graduation, I committed a year to the Lutheran Volunteer Corps. One year living simply and sustainably with other volunteers in an intentional community. One year working for social justice. I chose to work at Lutheran World Relief.

LWR has been there as long as I can remember going to church, in other words, my entire life. I have been a part of congregations that feel strongly about putting their faith into action by giving time and resources toward LWR’s mission. The dedication of the quilter groups who meet every week, without fail, to make LWR Mission Quilts feels like part of the moral fiber that makes up being Lutheran, kind of like our affinity for potlucks.

I remember times when we passed an extra collection plate for our brothers and sisters experiencing a disaster overseas. Times when my youth group had to go through every LWR Personal Care Kit donation to make sure each one included metal nail clippers and that the towel was between 20″x40″ and 52″x27″, and all the times I enjoyed a warm cup of Fair Trade cocoa or coffee after church.

My mom and I are chocolate enthusiasts. You can always find a stash in our dining room cabinet, so our family merged our interests by purchasing Divine Chocolate as well. (I highly recommend the 70% Dark Chocolate with Ginger & Orange.) Yet, even more important than these traditions, I choose to support, and now work at, LWR because it is an organization I trust.

During my first two weeks here, I have had the opportunity to talk with members from across the U.S.-based team who work every day to end poverty and restore dignity to each person. They have taught me about how LWR’s sustainable agriculture projects empower women farmers and the next step after disaster response,  resilience!  LWR’s value of Accompaniment is one of the biggest draws for me. We ask our partners what they need, how can we help, rather than telling them what we are going to do for them.

I realize we all can’t take a year to volunteer. I am incredibly blessed and privileged that I can decide to do this. But, have you ever thought about ways you could do more with less?

Hi, I’m Sarah, the new program assistant for Marketing and Creative Services. You’ll be hearing from me this year on the blog and on LWR’s Twitter and Facebook. You see that question in the paragraph above? If you’re in a sharing mood, I’d love to hear from you.

How have you done more with less? Leave a comment below.

  • Erika Lehmann

    It is wonderful that you’ve found this meaningful way to spend a year of your life. I look forward to hearing much more from you!