This week I lost my Friday nights again. I had six weeks over the summer of being able to go for a drink with my workmates, or stay in and watching Friday night TV. But now all that's come to an end. And the weird thing is I'm really glad about it!
So why have I lost my Friday nights? Well, during term time I help run the senior youth club at my church. We are open to children aged 14 or over, and have about 15-20 young people, mostly boys, who come along, play football or pool, or just have a gossip. We ply them with sweets and sugary drinks, and halfways through the session we sit them down and do a little talk. The talks are usually to do with Christianity as it's a church organisation, but we also try to encourage them to live well even if they don't believe in God. All this takes up a couple of hours of my time excluding travel to and from.
It doesn't sound like much really. People often ask, 'So what do you do with the kids?' and seem a bit disappointed when I say we just let them do what they want (within reason). But when we're driving back from youth club just after 10pm on a Friday night, and I see groups of teenagers hanging around on the street, that's when I see that what I'm doing does have a benefit. Youth club is somewhere safe they can come to, hang around with their friends and let off steam at the end of the week. They're in no danger and they're also not out worrying the neighbourhood (because I think often the presence of groups of teenagers on the street is threatening to residents even if they're not doing any harm).
So by being generous with my time I can contribute to the lives of these young people. What's more I enjoy it. Yeah, my workmates might be at the pub having a laugh, but the kids at youth club can be much funnier without the aid of alcohol! They're a great group, and never fail to make me smile. Plus our tuck shop is so cheap I can stock up on chocolate for the rest of the week!
So that's why I love volunteering. In fact, I feel more satisfied by those two hours on a Friday night than by a whole week at work!