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The Greatest Roller-Coaster – Volunteerism

Being dedicated to changing the world is like riding a roller-coaster of emotions. Sometimes it’s the kiddie-coaster in a mall parking lot, other times it is the biggest, fastest, most flashy roller-coaster in the world. For me, I choose to ride the change-the-world-roller-coaster by volunteering my time, talent and energy.

My entire life I’ve been riding these rails, volunteering in service to the world. For me the ‘world’ I aim to change is not just the planet we all share; it’s the world in which I live and whatever community I happen to be a part of. It’s about the people I intersect with in life on a daily basis, including friends, family and passersby. It is this part of our big ole planet that, through volunteering, I’m working to change.

Have you ever taken a ride on the change-the-world-roller-coaster? Join me for a second…let me know, can you relate? It feels a bit like this…

I love volunteering. It’s a fantastic way to give back. I met new people. I got to be creative. I gained experience.

Wait… I didn’t get thanked. I feel drained. Nothing changed. Nobody cares. I hate volunteering. Volunteering sucks.

Hold on now, I’ve been appreciated. I see my value to the cause. I have been thanked by a person whose life I impacted! Volunteering is pure awesome. Never stop! Who needs money? Just VOLUNTEER – FOREVER! Creativity and volunteerism are the way of the future.

Oops… look at that, rent is due. I seriously have no money and no time. Why am I doing this again? What am I thinking? Stop me before I volunteer again…

…no wait, I can feel it, and now I can see it…I’m changing the world!

Let’s DO this! MORE! AGAIN!


Feels a little chaotic just thinking about it, right?

But in all seriousness, if Steve Jobs is right and changing the world is for the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels and troublemakers, then maybe I am on the right roller-coaster. Changetheworld

I’ve volunteered as a creative, a photographer, a graphic designer, a writer, and an event coordinator. I’ve had doors slammed in my face and have been greeted with open, appreciative arms. I’ve donated time, money, energy, creativity. I’ve sacrificed sleep, time and money. I’ve signed myself up with friends and family. I’ve been “volun-told” here and there. I’ve been a slacktivist on social media. I’ve coordinated grassroots groups to enhance my local community. I’ve experienced ageism, had my skills overlooked and taken advantage of.

I’ve volunteered mainly because my heart swells so big with passion for a changing the world I live in, that if I don’t volunteer my creativity, energy and skills, I am pretty sure I would burst.

I know that volunteering is a transformative experience. Even though it has its bests and worsts, ups and downs, I know I’ve made a difference through volunteering. I found something to love and learn about in each and every experience.

During this National Volunteer Week, my advice to you is: volunteer in whatever way you can on the change-the-world-roller-coaster, and let it make you crazy… because if you are crazy enough, you can change the world!

And isn’t that the point?

To volunteer is to change whatever world you live in.

Katherine Topolniski
Volunteer Alberta



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