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For some people, volunteering isn't a choice: it's a way of life. Whether they help out in their local communities or volunteer virtually through the phone or Internet, these "power users" of the volunteer world regularly put aside mundane pastimes and choose, instead, to do something meaningful.
It's a feeling that Patsy Wilcher knows well.
Wilcher volunteers primarily with the Domestic Abuse Helpline for Men and Women (DAHMW), where she recruits and trains volunteer advocates in the fight against domestic abuse. But over the years, she has served dozens of mission-driven organizations in a wide range of nonprofit interests.
"I've been volunteering for as long as I can remember," she said. "I simply love to help people and great causes. Our world is filled with so many organizations that have such wonderful causes. All they need are some extra hands to help them."
Like a lot of frequent volunteers, Wilcher's motivation to help comes from a surprising place. Having an impact on someone else's life has a profound emotional impact on her, she said, which in turn produces a physical response of well-being and happiness.
"It brings me so much joy to help someone else or assist an organization in need," she said. "Most of my experiences have been with those who've been afflicted with terminal illnesses or abuse. Volunteering touches peoples lives. Of course, you may never know the difference you've made, but the impact is there."
Wilcher is also active as a volunteer beyond her Savannah, Georgia, home town. When she relocated there following her husband Kennith's promotion, she realized she could continue to serve the organizations she'd grown close to through VolunteerMatch's Virtual category.
That's where she first discovered DAHMW. "The thing I found unique was this was one of the few violence prevention programs that also helped male victims. I was overjoyed to find such a great organization that helps everyone." she said.
Wilcher's commitment has not gone unnoticed by the nonprofit community. In 2003, she was recognized as an outstanding committee chair by Circle K International for her work to rally college students to make cards for sick and dying children.
Wilcher appreciated the honor, but said that's not what's driving her at all. She volunteers simply because she loves doing it.
"Volunteering is the most unselfish, loving thing a person can do," she said. "Find an organization that you truly have a passion to help, and I promise you won't regret it."