Volunteering in Your Own Backyard


    When we moved to Summerville over a year ago, I was lost, literally and figuratively. We moved 1000 miles away from the place we lived most of our lives, a small town in Texas where running to the small grocery store was like going to a family, school and work reunion all rolled into one. Now, 1000 miles away and the only person we knew was our real estate agent, and she was assigned to us. Luckily for me she was wonderful! Kate immediately made me feel comfortable at our first meeting. She loved how prepared we were when we flew to Charleston for the weekend looking for houses. And even though we didn’t find the our home then, we had faith that we would. After scoping out what we hoped was the perfect house for us, Kate sent us a video of her walk-through with excellent commentary and the next day we sent our earnest money to purchase it. She proved over and over again to be a great realtor and turned into a great friend.  My only friend, in fact in the entire state.

    Volunteering in Your Own BackyardKate asked me if I would like to join the Junior Service League of Summerville. Even though I had never heard of it, I was interested in meeting new people and trying to find myself in this new community. I never knew how much giving could actually give to me. I went to a get-together for ladies thinking about joining the Junior Service League of Summerville (JSL) and honestly, I felt awkward. I mean, who wouldn’t feel awkward going to an event somewhere totally new and meeting a whole bunch of strangers. I wasn’t sure where I would fit in. They all looked so fancy wearing dresses and here I was in shorts and a tank top. Mind you, they were my best shorts and tank, but you get my point.  Kate, my dear friend Kate, showed up late, but once she was there my anxiety lessened.  

    Volunteering in Your Own BackyardI decided to join JSL.  It was one of the best decisions that I made since we moved here. JSL offered me opportunities to volunteer that I didn’t even know existed. That would have been great in and of itself, but it also introduced me to many women that I’m so happy to say are some of my best friends. The community that I have found is overwhelming. We are a group of ladies that are excited to help in so many ways and use our talents to give to others.  

    Why is volunteering important?

    Volunteering in Your Own BackyardVolunteering allows us to look at the big picture and see how small we really are. The JSL allows us the opportunity to give back in an organized and specific way so that our efforts are multiplied. We help corporately so that the organizations that we support receive maximum help.  

    This year, the JSL supports 15 charitable organizations in and around Summerville, including Habitat for Humanity, Katie’s Krops and Meals on Wheels. We support them by volunteering at each of these organizations and by our fundraising events that allow us to financially support them as well. Some of the fundraising events are Scarecrows on the Square in the fall, Christmas on the Square in the winter, and the John Tupper Golf Classic and Tee Off Party in the Spring.

    Other places to volunteer

    I know that not all of you are in the little town of Summerville. Fortunately, there are similar organizations just about everywhere.

    • The Junior League of Charleston has several community partners that it works with to bring about change, including the Lowcountry Food Bank, Lowcountry Orphan Relief, and East Cooper Community Outreach.  
    • The Rotary Club is a popular volunteer group that helps multiple organizations, including Adopt-A-Highway, Salvation Army, and Hootie Home Grown Round Up. 

    The moral of my story is simple: volunteering is wonderful, it’s a great idea to find an organization that you can volunteer with that’s close to home. Organizations like JSL, Junior League, and Rotary Clubs benefit many people, but most shockingly, I think I benefit the most. I never knew the satisfaction of being able to hand a person a plate of food, or a check that means that someone will be able to get a scholarship. The thousands of dollars that we raise to support these charities doesn’t hold a candle to the wealth that I have found in my heart by being able to give back with my new friends.  

    If you would like to find a way to get involved, here are a few websites where you can get more information:

    Charleston Rotary

    Junior League of Charleston

    Junior Service League of Summerville