Most summers, my business gets a bit…slower… I think it is because, whether we are aware of it or not, most people live on a school year schedule. We are more “regimented” in our work/home schedule during the school year. Once it gets warm, we tend to relax, go on vacation, and enjoy a more carefree lifestyle. This actually works well for me. I use this time to reconnect with my children, tend my garden, plan for camping adventures and hang out with my friends/ family.
Last year, I decided that I would use some of this downtime to simply help someone else. I wanted to give back to Ann Arbor, a city that has always given me a great place to live and raise my family. I wanted to enjoy knowing that I wasn’t just using my time to run a business, but that I was using this time to spend improving another’s life. I asked my social media connections to recommend good organizations. Many people had excellent recommendations, but ultimately, I decided that I wanted to help the Humane Society of Huron Valley.
I love animals, especially dogs and cats. Even though we are pet-less now, we have plans to eventually take on another dog. In the meantime, I wanted to meet some of these furry friends in hopes that one will eventually run into our lives and become a part of our family. I also wanted to help the amazing staff and volunteers at this organization. These people tirelessly work to keep the facility clean and the animals healthy. It is not an easy job, but with volunteers, they manage to adopt out 5,000 plus animals each year. I was impressed by their organization and their compassion. I was also very excited to spend some time with other volunteers, and of course, the doggies!!!
When you begin volunteering at HSHV, they require you to get your hands dirty…mostly doing laundry. However, I liked learning about the shelter and meeting other people who had a “volunteer” spirit. Meeting other people who wanted to make a difference made a tremendous difference in my own attitude and mental health. Helping others with my time made me not only feel good, but it made me happier. I would encourage anyone who is feeling isolated, anxious, or depressed to find a place to volunteer. When I became aware of how much I could help, I became less self-involved. All of sudden, my life seemed less complicated. Even though I was already practicing meditation and gratitude, I felt that my actions were following my ideals. I became more mentally-aligned and found a new sense of purpose.
After several hours of laundry, I trained to become a dog walker. I absolutely love spending quiet time walking the trails with these dogs. This makes me get outside, even on days I might rather stay inside or go to the gym. Last Winter, I remember walking some of these dogs in negative temperatures…and I remember thinking “What wouldn’t I do for these dogs?” Not only do I enjoy volunteering to walk the dogs, I also love how much exercise this has brought me!!! I usually get in at least 8,000 steps when I volunteer one shift. To find a win-win like this is an amazing perk.
In August of this year, it will be one year that I have given to HSHV. One year may not be a long time, but I know that I played a small part to keep these dogs happier and, therefore, more likely to be adopted. I know that I have found a great way to stay in shape and keep the dogs healthy as well. I’ve met some wonderful animals and I have cried tears of joy when some of my favorites found their new home.
This weekend, HSHV is doing their annual “Walk and Wag” to help raise funds (http://www.hshv.org/site/TR?fr_id=1250&pg=entry). I plan to run in the race and then help out afterward. If you are local and you want to help a wonderful organization, I encourage you to participate. Volunteer for exercise…you’ll make a difference in many lives, including your own.