“I may not change someone’s entire life, but I can be the change for that moment or day,” says 33-year-old Megan Zarling as she reflects on her new role as Volunteer Leader with Hands On Nashville.
This sense of purpose and mission wasn’t always so apparent, though. After working in the music business for 10 years, Megan found that she wasn’t quite as fulfilled by her work as she used to be. She was raised to believe that it’s important to “put others first,” yet she saw herself growing more and more distant from that philosophy. And trying new sushi restaurants with her husband wasn’t enough to tame the adventurer inside.
In May 2010, Megan found herself in her first volunteer experience when Nashville was hit by the flood. The volunteer relief efforts reinvigorated her spirit of community and motivated her to give back. “I could not believe the amount of work HON [volunteers] were able to take on. The results [of flood relief efforts] were mind boggling to me.” In June 2011, Megan decided to dive headfirst into the nonprofit world and make volunteering a more consistent centerpiece of her life.
After trying a few different volunteer opportunities, she found her fit at Nashville Cares where she leads volunteers making care packages for HIV/AIDS affected families. “Before we start, the wall is lined with empty shelves. By the time we leave, those shelves are packed with food bags,” she says. “It’s an amazing feeling to know the food bags we put together will feed Cares’ clients for the next several weeks.”
This busy wife, mother-to-be, workout enthusiast and dog-lover encourages anyone who will listen to integrate service into their lifestyle, too. “It only takes a little time and an open mind to volunteer. There is literally something for everyone. The best part about volunteering is at the end knowing you did something for someone else. The feeling of being selfless for a brief period of time is priceless.”
Making CARES Packages occurs every Tuesday from 6 to 7:30 p.m. If you want to participate, click here to sign up for this project. HON’s Volunteer Leaders and volunteers are an integral part of Hands On Nashville’s mission to impact community needs through volunteerism. Thank you, Megan, for your leadership and volunteerism!