In my ample spare time (and often while I have moments at work), I devote a ton of my energy to a small canine rescue. I became involved with my then-boyfriend-now-Husband over two years ago when we decided to foster a dog I found online. I quickly realized that the girls who helped us in fostering were some of the most amazing women I’ve ever met, and I began volunteering even more. Eventually, I was asked to be an adoption counselor, a junior board member, and am now an official board member as the Director of Marketing and Outreach.
In my estimates, I spend about 10-15 hours per week working on rescue duties- even more so if I have a dog that I am assigned to as an adoption counselor. This part time job essentially eats up a lot of my energy, but like most volunteer work- the reward is often much greater than the sacrifice. My ability to care for other living things has grown exponentially and the skills involving leadership, engagement, and outreach are immeasurable (HEY- HIRE ME. I’M AWESOME!)
Time is money. And in that sense, I spend a ton of physical and actual dollars on my actions. Whether it be for gas to an adopters home, electricity costs to run my computer for a virtual meeting, or dog treats and supplies in my car for emergencies… every penny adds up along with that time.
In addition, as with all nonprofits, part of my duty as a ranking leader comes with the understanding that I will invest more than time when able.
Obviously, with my Husband’s loss of job, we are not in the state we are to give as much as we can. Knowing that we are not going to be able to contribute to the capital campaigns I’m steering feels hypocritical. And that is the last thing I want to come across. But how can I, in good conscious, ask for money from others when I am not prepared to “put my money where my mouth is?” How can I justify all of the gas to and from an adoption event or the lack of time to take on a second job?
So, this year will be the year of giving less, but it will not be the year of forgoing. It will be the year of understanding how much a crunch an adoption fee is for some families. It will be the season for sacrificing in the name of something much larger than a Christmas gift for my baby niece who will never know I gave her a thing, a trip to a local ice cream shop in the dead of winter, or a holiday themed manicure. Saving my city’s dogs from imminent death, abuse, or neglect is worth so much more in the long run. (And maybe, just maybe, this hard work will convert to real, meaningful employment down the line.)
Today, as I registered my dog for a Halloween costume contest, I felt no sting of guilt over paying the donation fee to be a part of it. The $20 I spent on having my dog parade around in a silly outfit paid for one of our dogs to get necessary blood tests to determine if she is in advanced stages of cancer.
I know that most personal financial advisers would shake their heads at me and remind me that what I can afford today to give may not necessarily what I can afford tomorrow given our circumstances. And it’s true. As I said, we will not give as much as we normally will. We will reconsider the time vs. actual dollars spent. But I am a strong believer that to get through hard times, you have to pay your dues. You have to throw some good energy out there in the world. You have to make the world you want. And all I know is that today, I made that world a reality.