Washington Volunteer Pays it Forward with Love and Kindness at Behavioral Health Organization
Meet Daily Point of Light Award honoree John South. Read his story and nominate an outstanding volunteer or family as a Daily Point of Light.
39-year-old John South is known as a volunteer who goes “above and beyond” to provide resources and help. The Federal Way, Washington resident says his service represents the mindfulness, love and kindness that he practices towards his fellow community members each and every day.
As a Valley Cities Behavioral Health Care volunteer in the Federal Way Resource Room, John volunteers five days a week to help clients. By providing information on housing or employment, or resources on tasks like using a computer or building a resume, John is a calming presence who has dedicated himself to helping people solve their problems. As a volunteer and client of Valley Cities, which promotes recovery, wellness, and resilience, John is lending a helping hand in offering holistic support to thousands of his community members.
What inspires you to volunteer?
I’ve had other volunteer roles in the past, but my current volunteerism is driven by my work ethic. I previously worked at a non-profit, and that altruistic spirit, showing love and kindness, motivated me to do more in that world.
Describe your volunteerism at Valley Cities.
I started volunteering in the Federal Way Resource Room in 2018, where I organize and update our resources and make copies of materials. We have clients who need help with things like housing, employment and shelter, and I make sure they have all the resources they need. All of the folks we serve are similar to me, we’re in recovery. I view my volunteer work as a part of my recovery. I get to give a part of me through my service, and that helps me as well as it helps them.
Share one personal story with me from your volunteerism.
One time, a woman came to the resource room, I didn’t know her story or where she was coming from, I just helped her. We have a sign in sheet where clients can also leave comments. Before leaving, she wrote in the comment section that I had a very calming presence. A lot of the people we help have been through traumatic events, or are recovering from substance use disorder. To me, her comment meant that there is hope for other people. I have anxiety, but I didn’t project that anxiety on her as I helped her, I left my anxiety out of the situation. It made me feel good to help, because helping others is my job and it’s my job to share love and kindness.
Why do you think it’s important for others to give back?
The beauty of volunteering is that you get to learn yourself. It’s important for folks to give back because it helps people to understand others are going through the same struggles as they are. We have a lot of temporary assignments in life: mortgage, job, home, those can all be taken away. We need to be out in the world to meet other people’s needs in order to understand the struggles of others.
What’s been the most rewarding part of your service?
Connecting with other people. Being in the presence of other people. I am using mindfulness to be present, in the moment, and to be non-judgemental. Interacting and helping other folks is a very psychological act.
How have you adjusted your service during COVID-19?
The resource rooms had to close because of the pandemic. In the meantime, I am doing grant research for Valley Cities, and the plan is to go back to the resource room once things are safe.
In one word, what does volunteering mean to you?
How can readers help?
There are other volunteer opportunities at Valley Cities. Please visit their website for more information about how you can help.
Do you want to make a difference in your community like John South? Find local volunteer opportunities.