I am a retired schoolteacher. My journey toward becoming a volunteer began during my second year of teaching. A child was injured on the playground, and no one knew what to do. I made it my life’s mission to make sure no child would ever suffer like that again, much less have to limp for the rest of their life because of this accident.
In 1972, I joined a local volunteer rescue squad, became an emergency medical technician and later a paramedic. The people in the squad were both skilled and proud to provide free emergency care to their community. Through them, I learned to work as part of a team, improve my skills and the compassion it takes to deal with the joys and tragedies of life. Each day was different, and you went home hoping you had done your best. But that was not enough.
In 1999, I became a volunteer parking enforcement officer with the Virginia Beach Police Department. We write tickets for people who park in handicapped spaces without the proper tag. The officers, though polite, didn’t welcome me with open arms. I had to earn their respect, and it did not come easy. Today, I thank these officers for the privilege of working with them.
In 2012, an opportunity arose for me to become a police chaplain. It has been almost six years now, and I love every minute of it. We ride with the officers on their shift. Our job is not only to be there for them, but also to help families who have suffered a loss. I feel confident that, with my background and training, I can see the whole picture and help out in any situation.
So go out and volunteer. Remember, though, that this isn’t about carrying a badge, wearing a uniform or having a title. It’s about helping others.
My favorite saying is, “If you walk around with your nose in the air, you will fall flat on your face. But if you are content to just be yourself, you will become more than yourself.”
That’s me. I’m proud of my all my titles, but I’m content to be myself.
Finch is a chaplain assigned to the Virginia Beach Police Department’s Fourth Precinct. Email email@example.com for information about the police chaplain program.
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