Giving Hope, Receiving Joy

How volunteering to help others—from prison inmates, to the elderly, to rescue animals—reaps a windfall of blessings.

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Posted in , Jul 11, 2018

Comforting others reaps blessings.

Joy, that emotion of great delight caused by something exceptionally good and satisfying, can be experienced in the most unlikely places. For me, I found it while volunteering at the Federal Correctional Institution in Danbury, Connecticut. Yes, this is a place where inmates serve time. But through conducting workshops for the male inmates, I can help them and, in return, find happiness.  

Many of the inmates who attend my sessions are serving an average of 10 to 15 years. These men come from different backgrounds and races, but I give workshops for them all on practical issues such as building self-esteem, maintaining a positive attitude and, most recently, dealing with failure. They are all eager to learn, grow and explore new ways of thinking and living. 

The experience has been humbling and fulfilling. The inmates are a blessing to my life and teach me to see the world through their eyes. My heart is filled with joy because I’m giving back to a community often forgotten by society, but not by God. After the workshops conclude, attendees tend to stop by to chat, ask questions and express their appreciation for the program. They are thankful for my presence and time, and I am thankful to God for providing me with this opportunity.

Volunteering at a prison may not be for everyone, but there are many ways to give hope to others and experience joy in return. For example, a couple I know spent three months teaching at a school in Palestine; a friend of mine who cares deeply for animals, enjoys walking the dogs at her local animal shelter; and my dad oversaw the food pantry at his church for over 20 years. Providing someone with hope makes a difference in their life—and yours. 

Lord, make us instruments of your hope; allow us to experience the joy of giving and serving. 

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