Step out, expand your horizons

Kristi Leigh and Kristi Leigh

Why was I born in Ohio?

That was one of my first thoughts getting onto the plane to come back home from Colorado, about a week ago. I took in so much beauty over my two-week stay there, with the mountains, valleys, greenery, and rivers. There is always something to admire, even if you’re just driving around there.

About the only thing to admire while driving around in Northwest Ohio would be the construction barrels — that is, if you’re extremely fond of orange and white cylindrical objects. The closest thing to valleys and mountains here are the potholes throughout the streets and the mounds of dirt surrounding Wooster Street.

Well, if not for scenery, Northwest Ohio has got to be good for something, besides this university, of course. Sure, there are things to do here. Like, watch movies, go shopping, bowling, putt-putt, watch movies … wait, I already said that.

OK, I guess there isn’t a lot to do here. Besides, you can do all those things in Colorado, which the people there were happy to remind me, when I tried to defend my hometown.

The activities here pale in comparison to the things to do in Colorado, such as hiking and white-water rafting.

So what was I doing in Colorado for two weeks anyway?

No, I wasn’t vacationing. I wasn’t even there to hike actually. In fact, I was in a kitchen helping to prepare two meals a day for 200 or more people. I would wake at 5:30 a.m. and worked until 12:30 p.m.

Of all places, why would I want to be in a kitchen in beautiful Colorado?

Okay, a kitchen wasn’t exactly my first choice, but that is where I was placed to serve.

You see, I wanted to volunteer, and what better place to do that than in Colorado? It was well worth it, even if I did spend the first portion of my day in a kitchen.

On down time, I was able to do some of that hiking and whitewater rafting, and also hang out with others that live across the nation. Another neat aspect is the organization paid for my flight there and back, as some places seeking volunteers will do.

So how did I find out about this particular opportunity?

Well the organization is called Summit Ministries and I went there as a student in 2002. It is a leadership camp that has Ph.D.s and speakers come from all over the nation. It is an intensive two-week session on being a leader and information on both worldview issues and the present and future state of America. It answered so many questions for me, and it drove me to write for this newspaper.

The fact that I was able to get credits in philosophy just for attending those two weeks was reason enough. That’s right, just two weeks there, plus a term paper and I had three credits that transferred straight to here.

So for me, it wasn’t just about wanting to volunteer, but a desire to support the organization I believed in. That is probably the biggest reason for you to volunteer. You should devote your time to something that you believe in when volunteering.

Of course you can volunteer right here in Ohio. Just the basic concept of volunteering is good. It gives purpose, meaning and fulfillment and builds character. Maybe those are the reasons you are in summer school, but that is usually for more long-term goals. Volunteering usually gives more instant feelings of purpose, meaning and fulfillment.

Volunteering is also good for getting you out of the routine of everyday life, especially if you go to another state to volunteer. It got me away from some of the stresses of the world, the television and radio. Those were good things for me to get away from and I didn’t even miss them. It was refreshing.

Getting away from home for a bit was also a great way to meet new, interesting people from across the nation. It is edifying to get different perspectives from new groups of people. Plus, now that I have friends that live in other states, I have free places to stay at other times that I need to get away from home!

Maybe I haven’t convinced you to volunteer. It’s possibly just not your thing. But hopefully you might consider stepping out of that bubble you may have been in. There are a lot of different opportunities out there. Even if you stick around here, you could seek out closer adventures.

Just do something different or go somewhere out of the ordinary. You might be surprised at how much better and rejuvenated you may feel.

E-mail Kristi to receive more info on Summit Ministries at [email protected].