How Volunteering Is Helping Me Through the Most Painful Time of My Life

Volunteering is a big part of my life these days, but if I'm totally honest it's not a selfless activity.

 

april-hussar-girls-on-the-run

I am participating in a sponsored campaign hosted by Advil®, as a part of the Advil® Relief in Action campaign. I received compensation for this post. While all opinions stated are my own, I make no claims about Advil® as a product or its effectiveness.

 Volunteering is a big part of my life these days, but if I’m totally honest it’s not a selfless activity. In fact, this past winter and spring, it helped me get through one of the darkest, most difficult periods of my life.

I’m not a “natural runner” at all, but two years ago I challenged myself and signed up with Team in Training, committing to not only running 13.1 miles in the Nike Women’s Half Marathon, but raising over $3K for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. I’ve written about that life-changing experience before, but one of the biggest, ongoing benefits is that the confidence I gained is what launched me into my work with an incredible organization called Girls on the Run. It all happened pretty serendipitously: When training for the Nike Women’s Run, I found that keeping up with other runners via Twitter and social networks really encouraged me. One day I happened to read a tweet about Girls on the Run, and I when I looked in to it, I loved what I found. Girls on the Run is a nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering young girls and helping to teach them self-confidence and life skills while training for a 5K. As someone who never felt very secure or confident as a young girl, and as the mom of a daughter, I was excited enough to sign up to be a volunteer coach right away.

april-hussar-girls-on-the-run2My daughter running past as she trains for her first 5K, two years ago

I’ve been coaching my daughter’s team for two years now, and the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of the young girls I work with is such an honor and blessing to me. Yes, I find it challenging and frustrating at times — the amount of energy required to keep the attention of 15 – 20 grade-school and tween girls for an hour and a half at a time is no laughing matter! And every Saturday morning when the alarm goes off, I say to myself, WHY DID I SIGN UP TO BE AWAKE THIS EARLY ON A WEEKEND?! Not to mention the physical pain — I may have completed that half marathon, but I’m afraid I’ll never really be a great, natural runner (and my knees would like to second that notion!). But the rewards far outweigh the difficulties, and I truly love it.

This year, being a volunteer coach has been even more meaningful to me, as I’ve been coping with the shock and heartbreak of my little sister’s sudden death right after this past Christmas. I could barely function for months (and I know it’s something I’ll never, ever “get over”), but making it to my Girls on the Run sessions, and knowing that I am in even the smallest way helping other girls feel more confident and powerful, means a lot to me. It’s helping me get through the pain of every day.

april-hussar-girls-on-the-run3Isabella running her third 5K this spring!

When I learned about Advil® Relief in Action initiative, I was happy to be able to share my story in support of their campaign, which is all about celebrating the work of volunteers who don’t let pain get in the way of helping others in need. Through partnerships with Habitat for Humanity International® and Wounded Warrior Project®, Advil® is recognizing volunteers’ hard work (while relieving the tough pain that comes along with giving back). I know firsthand that volunteering is something that brings immeasurable good to the world — both for the recipients of a volunteer effort, and for the volunteers themselves.

If you’d like to actively participate in the initiative, and join in the support of active volunteers, you can get involved in the following ways:
- Follow @ReliefinAction on Twitter and Instagram
- Share how you embody Relief in Action by posting a photo with the hashtag #ReliefinAction on Instagram and Twitter.
- Visit http://www.advil.com/reliefinaction to learn more.


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