Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Benefits of Volunteering

Volunteering, according to the people who study people, provides a host of benefits. The one most commonly mentioned is gaining a feeling of helping others. The popular phrase is giving back. Providing service to the larger community helps the volunteer's sense of esteem by helping focus on life beyond the individual. It can be a rush.

Another benefit is it expands your social circle. Everyone who has been outside of school for any period has noticed how your social circle can contract. Being a volunteer can certainly help you meet people.

With the George Mason Friends, there is a lesser known but very tangible benefit. You gain a personalized book search service. Largely this is an informal operation. Someone will mention that they have discovered so-and-so's books and people will start looking for them. The volunteer pays for the book; the search doesn't cost extra. If you have been volunteering with the Friends and are looking for an author, please let us know.

What have I found in the past? The list includes Sister Wendy books, paperbacks by Donna Leon, novels based on King Arthur and Camelot, books by Daphne DuMaurier, On Food and Cooking by Harold McGee, cookbooks published by America's Test Kitchen or Cook's Illustrated, Superman comic books, Delderfield novels, Clavell novels and James Patterson novels.

Why do I look for books? I think it is fun (yes, that is just a bit warped). It is a challenge to handle hundreds of books every week and every once in a while find a book that will please a particular person. As anyone who goes to book sales knows, a best seller of five years ago is extremely easy to find. An author from thirty years ago who didn't become a modern classic is a lot harder. Delderfield is such a person. Daphne DuMaurier's books other than Rebecca are also fairly uncommon.

So, Friends' volunteers and book lovers, save yourself the Amazon postage and enter the world of serendipity. Tell us a book you have been thinking about buying used and we will see what we can do for you.

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