Volunteering: It’s Just What We Do

Daniel and his family enjoy cooking meals for the families at Ronald McDonald House.

Daniel and his family enjoy cooking meals for the families at Ronald McDonald House.

Contributor: Daniel Diffen

Like many of you out there who’ve found Austin Allies, my family and I were searching for opportunities where our children could volunteer with us. Growing up in Austin, I had an overwhelming amount of options for volunteer work, but I also found that I could always make an excuse to just not do it. Challenging academic burdens, swim team obligations, unfamiliarity with the organization… whenever the possibility arose I was able to pull out some reason or another not to attend.

The truth is that missing out on those experiences cost me, not just in terms of my college and future job applications, but also in my personal growth. Instead of taking a single step outside of my comfort zone, I chose to stay safely inside the bubble that I’d created and ignore the needs of my community. It was a selfish act, and not one I’m proud of. But I am proud to have recognized my mistake and made changes in my life to address it.

Once we’d found Austin Allies, my wife and I made a goal to join our children (ages 8 and almost 7) to volunteer at least once a month. So far, we’ve been out to the Ronald McDonald House, BookSpring, Blue Santa, the Diaper Bank, the VA Center, and have attended numerous craft/wrapping/bagging parties! My kids favorite place to work thus far has been the Ronald McDonald House because they both love to help out in the kitchen and really enjoy getting to volunteer at a place that serves kids their own ages. Our goal is to take away the stigma of volunteering for our children, and for them to come away with the understanding that volunteering with others isn’t something scary, special, unique, or strange...

Volunteering our time and energy is just what we do. We hope that our kids develop a lifelong appreciation for what it means to give back to our community, and begin to understand that our role in Austin starts with stepping outside of our neighborhood and appreciating all of the diversity and cultures that the city can offer.

If you’re interested in joining the Allies for an upcoming event, take a look at our Calendar page and find an organization that speaks to you! Our calendar of events for the month of April can be found HERE and sign-ups are available at the end of each event’s description. We hope to see your family out at an event soon!

Daniel Diffen is a local writer who serves as VP of Communications for Austin Allies. He organizes and edits blog posts for the group, and can be seen hosting Allies events around the city.