Written by Virginia Lou Ng
It’s National Volunteer Appreciation Week! And no one appreciates volunteers more than me.
From a very early age, my mother taught me the value of being a volunteer. As a child, I would accompany my mother to the Buddhist temple, and we would cook meals for the monks, nuns, and the congregation. We also visited those who were house-bound and senior citizens. One summer my mother recruited me to babysit for a newly arrived family all summer. I did this graciously, and without complaint.
When my own daughter was old enough, I became her Girl Scout Leader. I was one of those rare people, who when asked, said: “Yes, I can do it”. Those words became all too familiar in the years to come. I was the class parent, PTA president, taught religious classes, worked the hot dog stand during little league games, and was the band parent president in high school for both children.
Being an active volunteer has paid off. Through volunteering, I developed numerous job skills. It helped me learn how to conduct business seminars and trainings. It also taught me about people. I have gained self-confidence that I truly lacked when I was young, and learned to speak publicly before an audience (without trembling and shaking). I have been truly rewarded in my volunteer years, knowing that somehow I have made a difference in someone’s life.
As the volunteer manager at Charles B. Wang Community Health Center, I encourage everyone to volunteer in some capacity. Volunteering is a reward in itself. I am reminded of the time I attended one of my former girl scout’s wedding. I approached her right before the reception and said that there must be some mistake, since she had me seated at the parents table. She told me, “Mrs. Ng, you’re my other mother.” That moment I knew what a difference volunteering had made—both for her and for myself.
In 2015, Charles B. Wang Community Health Center had nearly 140 volunteers. Volunteer hours range from 45 hours to those who have been with us for several years. They learn skills, meet and help people, and really make a difference in the lives of our patients and community. Volunteers have been placed in all sites, and served as “extra” hands who aid us in our work. Without the volunteers, our work would not be as smooth as it is. I am very grateful for our volunteers, for the hard work and support that they offer. Their dedication to our community is exhilarating. A big thank you to all who have volunteered with us at the Health Center. We appreciate you!
Virginia Lou Ng is the Associate Administrator at the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center, where she serves as volunteer manager and special events coordinator. She is the current president of the OCA-NJ Chapter (Organization of Chinese Americans). She received her 35 year membership pin from the Girl Scouts of the USA and is the recipient of the Thanks Badge I & II, the highest awards given to a GS volunteer.