Volunteering Can Bring Out The Best In Us

Michael Bull’s story is tragic on many levels.

Bull was the victim of a homicide Aug. 19 outside his apartment building on East Sixth Street. It wasn’t until Bull reached middle age that he and his sister, Jeanne Johnson, forged a relationship following a medical scare that brought the two together. Johnson said Bull largely kept to himself even as a child, but credits his time volunteering at Community Helping Hands with helping Bull reach out to the outside world.

“It was kind of a family to him,” Johnson said of the volunteers Bull worked with at the organization. “He made connections there.” Delores Myers, Bull’s niece, told The Post-Journal’s Eric Tichy that volunteering helped Bull immensely. “He was used to being secluded and to himself … it opened up a whole new world,” Myers said.

Perhaps there is no greater gift in sharing Bull’s story than to reinforce the value of volunteerism for everyone in the community. It’s easy to remember how volunteering helps the organizations that tie our community together or how volunteering can improve the lives of the less fortunate in our midst. We forget sometimes the impact volunteering can have on the volunteer. Michael Bull did not have an easy life, but the Jamestown man found the time and energy to help his fellow man and, in the end, help himself too.

A search on www.volunteermatch.org turned up three pages of organizations looking for volunteers in Chautauqua County. Those organizations include opportunities that range from helping children to helping the environment. Maybe this is a good time for all of us to think about pitching in to help our community. We may end up helping ourselves, too, as Michael Bull did.