Reflections from Volunteering in Benicia

The Beauty of a Small Town

Have you ever noticed how beautiful a town can be? In the busyness of life and the hustle and bustle of the City, it’s quite different to come to a small town and enjoy the sights. Last year, I’ve come to enjoy and appreciate the sights of a small town. I live in SF, but I was spending my weekends in a very different place: a place called Benicia.

No, I wasn’t going there for the food or just to get away from the City. I was there for a specific purpose. I was there to volunteer. Together with my church, we were going there to work on beautifying the town even more by helping at the local parks and working with the parks and recreation department of the city with any projects they were doing. The parks and recreation departments of small cities are always overworked and understaffed, and they depend heavily on the help of local community members and volunteers.

Most of us don’t live in Benicia, but we were there to put in the work necessary to make it a place any of us would like to and be proud to call home.


Why do I volunteer?

I really enjoy volunteering. It wasn’t something that I invested too much time in before joining SF Zion. I did some volunteering in high school because it was mandatory to apply for colleges, and I recall being more grumpy than happy about having to wake up on Saturday mornings to go shovel some dirt or pull out some weeds. Now, I enjoy my volunteering Saturdays because it’s a time when I get to use my time and efforts for something good. And I get to do it with the people that I enjoy being around.

Thinking about our time volunteering: one person could shoulder the burden of all the work that could be done; however, it is much more efficient to do as a large group as there is just so much to do. That is where volunteering comes in. Similarly to a large company, although a manager could probably fulfill the tasks and responsibilities of whoever they manage, a big team is needed to complete bigger projects. Although these head volunteers could probably weed a garden all morning and barely get done, having many more capable hands gets the job done quicker. They could focus on the bigger things that needed to be done.


Planting Trees, Growing Faith

One of the projects we worked on was to replant trees. Because if it was our first time planting trees, it took a good while to get them planted; however, due to the sheer number of us, everyone was able to get their trees in the ground fairly quickly. Imagine the two head volunteers trying to get that done in a morning!

For myself, it just seemed like another morning to soak up some sun, breathe some fresh air, and get my hands dirty; however, thinking about the trees and how they would have a permanent placehold in the community, the work we did was very fulfilling. We could have slept in or focused on ourselves, but when looking back, having a heart to volunteer and making another community a better place just feels and is more fulfilling.


A Reflection on the Lives We Touched

Looking back at all the different people wanting to make the community better, although strangers, we shared a heart to want to serve. Although I haven’t gone back to look at the work we did and others who continued the work after us, the work we did was small but helped in many ways for those in their neighborhoods to enjoy the community.

Although we definitely used our hands and we did a lot work, there are so many opportunities around your immediate area that could use your help. Something I recall hearing once was, “Just like the light, rain and air of the heavens that gives us life, free of cost, we must love our neighbors. We must become those who give what is valuable, without reservation”. I hope that we can love our neighbors and community.

The volunteer work may or may not have an immediate impact, but it will have an impact regardless. If we are in the position to volunteer, meaning we have the time and resources to help others and not just focus on ourselves, I definitely encourage everyone to take hold of those opportunities. Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. 

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