Why do you volunteer?

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First lady Michelle Obama reads to 5 and 6-year-olds at the Naval Air Station Oceana Child and Youth Programs summer camp

We asked our community to share stories about why volunteering is important. And we mapped some of the Los Angeles organizations where people have helped out. Please add yours and give us your thoughts on what inspires you to volunteer. Thanks!

Alison Regan says she volunteers because: “The importance of giving back to the community was instilled in me at an early age. I also feel a personal responsibility to try to promote justice and equality… The concepts of equal opportunity and justice inspire me. We are fortunate to live in a country that aspires to allow everyone the opportunity to pursue their dreams and I enjoy trying, even in a small way, to make that goal a reality.”

Kelly Hargraves says she’s volunteered at schools, animal rescue groups, community groups, kids sports, girl scouts, Thanksgiving dinners and shelters. She writes, “when I see a need , or ask ‘why is that like that?’ I realize that there is a need and I have to help fix things I don’t like.” What inspires her? “Happy people.”

Chandler Hadraba volunteers for Burning Man. Here’s what he writes about being involved:
“I love the community it inspires and help support it via my work as a Ranger and as an Earth guardian. Rangers are “non-confrontational community mediators” recognized by the community to assist in upholding the 10 principals. Although we don’t have any real power or authority beyond what the community recognizes at any given moment. Our foremost tenant is “To Do nothing”, which can be the most difficult task of all but key to allowing for radical self reliance and radical self expression, and to not defeat Darwin. It is an awesome responsibility that will test every aspect of your being. Although we are trained, the circumstances are so ever changing, it is either something you can do or not. My work with the Earth Guardians, has also transformed lives, through recruiting, training, and managing volunteers to help participants follow “leave no trace”, “zero-waste”, and recycling policies has created true knowledge about waste and choices that will continue on in the real world. The most difficult thing to do is change someones behavior, and this is what I do, how cool is that?”
Janis Price  is a fan of music and tells us that she is inspired by”interacting with others regarding music.”
By A. Vivaldi via Flickr (The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)
Mariel Rubio was inspired by her aunt, who was a “public servant for most of her career, so I found my own way to do the same (though out of the public eye). I was a member of Alpha Phi Omega, a coed service fraternity, in college and I have been of service ever since…” Volunteering, for Mariel is a “natural high… putting a smile on someone’s face, or knowing that I have helped the world in my own small way, feeds my soul. I need it to feel well rounded. My motivation is, consequently, somewhat selfish.”
Alexis Cole writes “I started volunteering as a child when my grandmother signed us up for feeding the homeless at church. I continued to volunteer through high school and college with various organizations and chose to work with the VBAS because I love animals. That love has now evolved into a passion for animal welfare and education opportunities for the public about shelter animals and pet safety.  I volunteer because every time I see a sad dog, cat or bunny face at the shelter I know it is within my power to help that animal find a forever home. I know that it is in my power to bring a pet into the life of an individual, couple or family – and that their new pet will probably give them done of the greatest joy of their life. I volunteer because I want to change the paradigm about shelters and shelter animals from being something that is scary and negative to something that creates joy and is positive.
Below is a map of some of the organizations where our community works. What about you? Add yours!