Dedicated Volunteers work four hours a week for a six-month period within one department. This month's Volunteer Profile focuses on Kristen Friend and Caroline Brown Dedicated Volunteers for the Communications Department, who help design, create and distribute flyers, event notices, calendars and other communications materials for our sangha.
I learned of Spirit Rock almost simultaneously from an old friend in Florida and new friends in California. Shortly after I moved to San Rafael from Tampa, a group of women in a book club I had joined asked if I was interested in coming to a class at Spirit Rock with them. The same week, a friend from Tampa mentioned Spirit Rock—she had known of it before I moved and was encouraging me to go since I was so close. She was familiar with several of the teachers and recommended I take advantage of the offerings. I could not ignore such a coincidence, so I came with the women to a weekend class and was instantly drawn in by the sense of warmth and community that Spirit Rock offers.
I decided to volunteer because I felt there was a lack of balance in my life between the time I spent focused on work for my own gain and the time I spent helping to support others. I began volunteering about a year after I moved to California, at a time when I was becoming increasingly interested in deepening my ties to my new place. I had spent some time at Spirit Rock and was thrilled to find that they had volunteer spots available in which I could use my training as a designer. Finding such a fit in a volunteer opportunity is rare, and I am thankful for it.
Volunteering with the Communications Department in particular exposes me to the incredible variety of programs Spirit Rock offers to the community. I have been able to explore teachings that have added to my own practice, and I have been able to help bring others who are interested in these offerings to Spirit Rock as well. Volunteering has actually helped deepen some of my relationships with friends who I would not otherwise have known shared my desire to be a part of the Spirit Rock community. I have also met wonderfully talented people who continue to give me ideas and inspiration that I can use in my daily life as a graphic designer. I am given the chance to work on projects that cause me to shift my thinking away from my usual patterns and help reboot my creativity.
Volunteering has added a gentle sense of calm to my life; it helps chip away at the daily stresses that build up every week. I know that for at least a day every week, I am tuned out of my routine and focused on working for the sake of the work itself—for the value it brings to others. Being able to help out in any way—even the little things—is rewarding. I always leave Spirit Rock much more centered than I when I arrive and with a better perspective on the week to come.
When I still lived on the East Coast, I learned about Spirit Rock from a friend who had been on retreat with Jack. This led me to read a lot of teachings from Spirit Rock teachers and listen to many Spirit Rock dharma recordings. When I moved to the East Bay in 2012 I was excited to attend some daylongs. These positive experiences made me want to be more involved. I’m grateful that I get to help Spirit Rock spread the Dharma.
Volunteering at Spirit Rock has helped me inch out of my comfort zone. I'm a writer, so I usually work on large research and writing projects that take several weeks or months to finish. That’s very different from my work in the Communications Department, where I have a variety of tasks that require me to pay attention to detail and work quickly at the same time—something that I don’t think I’m very good at.
My inner critic is out in force when I volunteer, urging me to work faster and scolding me for making mistakes. So by experiencing new ways of working and trying new tasks, I’m learning a lot about my inner critic and myself. In this way, volunteering at Spirit Rock has actually become a part of my practice and is helping me be more mindful, aware, accepting and forgiving.
I’ve been self-employed for the last 12 years, working by myself from my home office and communicating with others mostly via email. I really appreciate the opportunity to work and interact with “real" people instead of electronic ones.
Spirit Rock relies on the generosity of our many volunteers. We offer a range of volunteer opportunities from one time projects to ongoing service. Check our website to find out more about our volunteer program or contact our Volunteer & Community Coordinator, Marya Mayer, firstname.lastname@example.org.