Notes from Windward: #62

[Reprinted from the January issue of the Mensa Bulletin]

I'm a Volunteer

by Terry Moulton

     Volunteering is an act of giving and receiving that has given me many opportunities to be of service. It has also taken me to places I had never heard of before and given me the incentive to do things I otherwise would not have considered doing. Volunteering has nudged me out of the box and given me a broad range of life experiences.

     When I was in high school, I was a cadet in Civil Air Patrol. Civil Air Patrol is a volunteer organization that provides search and rescue services after aircraft crashes. Although I was never part of a real rescue, I did participate in practice rescue missions. I also had the opportunity to fly an airplane, ride in a helicopter and camp out in the desert.

     About the time of the collapse of the Soviet Union, I became involved with an organization called The Soviet American New Thought Initiative, which was supporting the expansion of New Thought activities in the Soviet Republics. Eventually, I became a full time volunteer and agreed to move to Russia to direct international outreach activities. Four about four years, I lived in Russia and traveled throughout the former Soviet Union lecturing on spiritual practices and responsible living, training facilitators, organizing conferences and providing spiritual counseling services.

     These activities took me from the Black Sea to Siberia. I overcame a strong fear of public speaking. I developed an understanding of a foreign culture. I saw countries being reborn. I supported people who were dealing with a sudden Cultural Revolution. I came to love and appreciate travel by train. And, I had many opportunities to practice patience.

     During repatriation to the United States, I became involved with Toastmasters. Toastmasters is an educational organization that specializes in the development of public speaking and leadership skills. Toastmasters was a gratifying and enriching experience. I was able to learn from and contribute to its supportive environment.

     Now I'm a full time resident and apprentice at Windward, a Mensa SIG and non-profit foundation dedicated to the creation of sustainable community. Windward is a social experiment and an engineering laboratory. Residents here are involved with developing energy efficient housing, creating alternative energy generation facilities, developing sustainable agriculture and ranching techniques and with food production. We also participate in writing, arts and crafts, and in the preservation and resurrection of ancient crafts and skills. We live and work in a supportive environment in humble surroundings in a rural area. We have clean air, good drinking water, wonderful food and no traffic.

     In addition to doing my share of the domestic chores, I work in the kitchen garden and help out with the sheep and the chickens. I also serve on the board of trustees as the apprentice director. Again, I am a full time volunteer.

     Volunteering continues to be an enriching, fulfilling activity for me. In fact, it has become a way of life for my retirement years. I am grateful for the experiences and opportunities volunteering has given me.