First Person

9 inspiring quotes that will make you want to get out there and volunteer

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We asked Oxfam volunteers what motivates them. Here’s what they told us.

If you’ve ever committed your time and energy to volunteering, you know that it brings all kinds of benefits, from making new friends to improving your health. But sometimes we all still need a little bit of extra inspiration to get out there and give back.

So in honor of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service on Monday, we asked Oxfam volunteers from around the country to share some of the reasons they joined the fight against poverty and injustice. Check out their answers below, and then learn about some opportunities to get involved in 2015.

Ben Wiselogle, Oxfam Action Corps volunteer, Washington state

Ben Wiselogole, right, meets with fellow volunteers.
Ben Wiselogole, right, meets with fellow volunteers.

“After six years in the Navy, and the loss of a good friend in Afghanistan, I needed to be part of an organization committed to addressing and preventing the kinds of injustices around the world that led to the turmoil that brought my friend to the mountains and violence of Central Asia. Oxfam is that organization, and from my work with them these past four years, I know that they are committed to building the type of world that doesn’t require the sacrifice of people like my friend Nic.”

Sapana Thomas, Oxfam Action Corps volunteer, Massachusetts

sapana thomas at MIT
Sapana Thomas

“You [can] inspire and mobilize your local community to take action to end social injustice throughout the world. Act locally to impact globally!”

Alyssa Hartman, Oxfam volunteer and CHANGE Leader, Ohio

Alyssa Hartman serves food at an Oxfam benefit dinner. Photo: Coco McCabe/Oxfam America

“College is such a time of immersion and education across different topics. One of those is learning how to be a global citizen. That might not be something you learn in one of your classes, but it is an important lesson. Particularly in the way you purchase your food for the rest of your life, and whether or not you’ll choose to vote or contact your member of Congress on issues that are important to you. Oxfam really lays groundwork on how to do all of those things and how to be an active and engaged citizen.”

Megan Nakra, Oxfam Action Corps volunteer, Illinois

Megan Nakra, center, volunteering at the Green Festival in Chicago. Photo: Oxfam Action Corps Chicago

“People want to know what they can do personally, beyond [giving] money or a signature. What we can do as voters and activists is help to develop the best [government] policies. We can sit with our senators and say, ‘This is the best idea.’ There’s nothing stopping us.”

Mercy Bell, Oxfam volunteer and musician, Tennessee

Mercy Bell volunteering with Oxfam at the Bonnaroo Music Festival. Photo: Coco McCabe/Oxfam America

“I feel like if I’m not volunteering, I’m not doing anything. It’s just part of who I am. And Oxfam makes it really easy for me because there is the music connection. I was raised with a social justice bent, I grew up hearing about whatever the issue of the era was … [And] it just stayed with me my whole life.”

Katherine Chavez, Oxfam Action Corps volunteer, New Mexico

kathy with congresswoman michele lujan grisham at ABQ farmers mkt
Katherine Chavez, right, with Congresswoman Michele Lujan Grisham at a farmers’ market in Albequerque.

“Oxfam allows me to right the wrong of poverty by getting at the root causes. [In] the Behind the Brands campaign, for example, we asked major chocolate companies for fair and equal treatment for woman farmers. … When we as volunteers lobby our US lawmakers, we represent constituents that agree with treating the cause of poverty through laws and policy.”

Paul Gallegos, Oxfam volunteer and CHANGE Leader, Wyoming

Paul Gallegos, left, at the Bonnaroo Music Festival in Tennessee. Photo: Coco McCabe/Oxfam America

“Social media is very influential, [but] the more impactful situations are when you’re interfacing one-on-one with a real human being. Those are the moments you remember the most. … I truly believe in the absolute power of one-on-one interactions.”

Nadine McGuire, Oxfam Action Corps volunteer, California

outside lands fest
Nadine McGuire, right, with fellow volunteers.

“Volunteering with Oxfam gives you an opportunity to meet interesting people, attend awesome events, and help fight poverty! It’s really fun inspiring people to take action to change the world.”

Jennifer Viechweg-Horsford, Oxfam Action Corps volunteer, New York 

jennifer viechweg-horsford
Jennifer Viechweg-Horsford at the People’s Climate March in New York City. Photo: Fatima Sambo-Schoenfelder

“Helping people is my passion, especially the poor and vulnerable anywhere in the world. Volunteering with Oxfam Action Corps allows me to serve the world’s poorest. I am closer to my life’s mission.

If you are looking to give back or care about hunger, poverty and injustice and want to take action, 2015 would be a great time to join the fight.”

Ready to join them? Sign up for the Oxfam Action Corps grassroots volunteering program to become an advocate and an organizer, gain leadership skills, and have fun doing good work with great people. Or make a difference by hosting an Oxfam Jam benefit concert in your city. Facebook Twitter Instagram YouTube Google+