Volunteer of the Month, May 2016: Sarah Lally Brown
My kids understand the concept of giving. They have walked into a birthday party with a wrapped toy that goes home with someone else as a gift. They sometimes make drawings with someone particular in mind and present it with ceremony. We talk about how we visit the food bank with bags from the grocery store and our garden because we can share our food with neighbors.
But as five year olds, they don’t exactly understand what volunteering is. To me, volunteering is when you give the gift of your time. I can still remember a pivotal moment when I was a teenager when my mother told me that the older I got the less time I would have. Something about the way she said it has stayed with me for my entire life and it really is a truism for me. My life is full to the brim with wonderful things and opportunities and experiences. Yet I carry my red paper calendar around with me like a talisman of control. It is the master behind my multiple branched Google calendar, filled with family, boys, racing, travel, and other obligations.
Nina Milligan (my own Editor-In-Chief) once commented that I work well under a deadline. It is an accurate statement, and most months my gardening column squeaks in on the very last submittal day. My boys have nothing but time right now and they want to fill it swimming and biking and drawing and playing board games and eating Zeek’s pizza and having very, very long conversations about which Pokemon evolve into which other Pokemon. One of my jobs is to be their enabler and I do it joyfully. I have another job where I keep the home fires burning and all of the laundry done, and yet another one where I help people learn how to become better drivers at the racetrack.
But there is a part of me that gets deep satisfaction from sharing my most limited resource. I volunteer with the Heart of Racing guild at Seattle Children’s Hospital, following our #23 GT America car as it races in the IMSA Weathertech Championship to raise money to help kids reach their full potential (over 5 million dollars raised so far!). I also write for Connections about my other favorite hobby, gardening. I do whatever it takes to sit down and pull together my story for Nina and when I hit send it is always done with a happy smile.
When my kids get a bit older I will tell them the same thing my mom told me and teach them about volunteering. Then it will be time to make one more calendar and find ways we can share our time with others. It’s going to be awesome.