Why Do I Volunteer?

“Why do you volunteer, and what’s in it for you ?”

I get asked this question on a regular basis. To answer it I need to go back to my youth.


When I was a young teenager finishing high school, I went through many bouts of depression. I didn’t know what to do with my life, yet I desperately wanted to find meaning. Deep down I knew that life was more than just surviving and working hard day after day for ourselves. I grew tired of looking for ways of momentarily satisfing myself by taking from life.  That continuous quest for personal gain and self-satisfaction always left me feeling empty. When I set my eyes on material belongings and perfecting myself, basically focusing only on ME—no matter what I did—I didn’t feel happy.


That’s when I began volunteering.


Focusing on others was a new concept for me, as I wasn’t used to forgetting myself and all my problems, but it changed my life. It made me a better person all around: more caring, thoughtful, and certainly more positive. Spending hours to make a sick child laugh, celebrating the first birthday cake with a 16-year-old orphan boy, or simply taking time to give of myself without expecting anything in return. For the first time I felt happy, I felt alive.


Sure, there are hospitals, orphanages, and schools where anybody can volunteer, but if you look around you, there is also that elderly, lonely neighbor whom you never stop by to chat with. There is that boy you pass every day on your way to work, selling items at the stoplights, who may be wondering if anybody really cares or notices him. If your eyes are open to others and your heart is willing to give, you will always find the opportunity to give of yourself to someone who needs you. I just stopped fussing about the terrible, selfish people on the evening news, destroying what love is left on the earth. I turned off the TV… Instead, I try to give some love to make my neighborhood and my surroundings a better place.  When you give of yourself for others, I believe you will find joy unlike anything else you’ve experienced before. 


About the author:

Angela Koltes has been an active member of Anything For A Smile Association since 2006. She is one of the founders of the Adana SODES Deaf Center and is one of the primary artists and manager of the Coloring the World project, a team which has painted extensive wall murals to provide a child-friendly atmosphere for over 60 children’s hospital wards and schools throughout Turkey.  She presently resides in Adana, Turkey where she has been living for the past 10 years. She has a degree in Psychology.



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