“No one has ever become poor by giving.”
—Anne Frank, Diary of Anne Frank

As we struggle to make ends meet as we continue to come out of this recession, charity has taken a back seat in our lives, especially here in Ventura County. It became overly apparent with a story the VCReporter published in November. In a feature article, the writer discussed the dire need for volunteers for Big Brothers Big Sisters and that male volunteers, in particular, are few and far between. In an unexpected turn of events, however, due to the publication of that story, several men and women called to volunteer with Big Brothers Big Sisters. But it shouldn’t necessarily take a well-written story to arouse the hearts and minds of those in our community to give their time to help others.

While many of us can’t write thousand-dollar checks to our favorite charities, we can give our time. It can be an hour a week, even an hour a month. But first, one has to consider — what do we hold dear? That’s the first step in committing ourselves to a cause and making a lasting impression on those who need our help.

Most of us have seen the commercials about the sick, poor and hungry children in impoverished countries. We have seen the neglected and abused animals. We are familiar with images of men, women and children who are affected by cancer and the need for research funding. What many don’t yet know is what can be done right here in Ventura County, organizations that need volunteers doing activities we truly enjoy, such as performing magic tricks, walking dogs, gardening, feeding the poor, scoring students’ science projects, or even spending lunchtime once a week with one child who has been picked on by his or her peers. The list is quite expansive, so when the spirit of charity strikes, it is best to have a guide.

The Ventura County Human Services Agency has a list of nonprofit organizations on its website, found at portal.countyofventura.org/portal/page/portal/VCHSA/Partners or tiny url tinyurl.com/9wj8z67. United Way of Ventura County has a search engine that links volunteers to desired causes at volunteerventuracounty.org. Volunteermatch.org is yet another resourceful tool to pair potential volunteers with a variety of organizations and agencies close to volunteers’ respective homes. Any web search engine, looking for volunteer Ventura County, will bring up a number of agencies looking for volunteers as well.

While we may be frustrated with our financial situation, may wish we had more and that we could make more, for most of us, it will take some major leaps and bounds to move from average money making-careers to wealth and fortune. In the meantime, find something that may and will most likely enrich our lives just by giving a little time to helping others. After all, money isn’t everything.