Imagine having the job you’ve always wanted, working for a great company in a nice office. You have a healthy social life, your life is filled with meaningful relationships, and you’re on the sure-and-stable road to success.
Would that be good enough for us? Probably not.
We were never meant for merely “good.” We were meant for great, and maybe we were meant for amazing. And perhaps we were also meant for love, in the truest, most genuine form.
And that’s what Diane Sabulao discovered, one fateful summer five years ago.
It Started with A Question
It was 2010. It was then, on the cusp of a new season to be spent in university (UP, to be exact) as a design major, that a younger Diane decided to join a group of passionate college individuals wanting to make a change: the Young Men’s Christian Association of Quezon City, Inc.’s Youth Volunteer Workers’ Group.
“I joined partly because I wanted to know what it feels like to be in college, and partly because I wanted to try something new,” she tells us.
The group itself met every Sunday to plan and execute events that aimed to empower the talents and character of young men, challenging them to be advocates of change in and of themselves. But what started out with a simple wondering about this “something new” eventually became so much more.
On the Grit of Love
Diane tells us: “And it may sound so fab to you, but here’s where I realized that being a volunteer is really a labor of love. Being a design student and a volunteer is hard, and deep within I know even that is an understatement. Volunteers are not volunteers because they have nothing to do with their time. Volunteers are volunteers because they have the heart.”
And heart is where it all started. As she continued to dedicate her time and energy as a volunteer for four years, she discovered what love really was: hard. She recounts to us that volunteering will teach you the crucial life skill of patience in every aspect, from dealing with kids to dealing with EDSA. Volunteering with teach you kindness and forbearance. It will teach you not to be self-seeking, because that would defeat the whole purpose. It will teach you that true love keeps no record of wrongs, that love always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres. And love is not always easy.
“I can’t remember anything that has taught me to eat my pride better than knowing that doing so can make the group a better family,” Diane says.
But that’s what love ultimately does: it take us from peak to peak in our personal growth, by allowing us to serve others and and be transformed by them.
The Investment of a Lifetime
The heart of volunteering is really about seeing the bigger picture. It is the knowledge that your labor is not in vain that will spur you on. Diane knows this well, too. “You offer your time, energy, and effort; investing all these on the future generation without expecting anything in return, not even a centavo. […] I guess what made me stay and what makes me keep coming back is the fact that I know that a love like this has an effect to the welfare of the future. We invest in something because we believe in its potential. We invest in the youth because we believe in their potential,” she says.
Indeed, no one would invest so much in something that they don’t believe in. And perhaps, in our daily routines, in the comings and goings of our weekdays and weekends, perhaps it’s time to ask ourselves: What do I believe in? Diane’s answer is simple, and it’s the reason why she tells of her experiences as a volunteer: “I believe that there’s still so much goodness in this world. The world needs to hear more of the good things. The world deserves to know.”
Beyond Mere Words
Today, Diane is a 21-year-old licensed Interior Designer, currently working as Store Planning and Design Assistant at Skechers Philippines. In her spare time, she visits exhibits, museums, and expos, keeps fit by jogging, as well as keeps creative through her art.
But on top of her successful life, she has not stopped carrying the heart of a volunteer as she continues to participate in The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf®’s Caring Cup activities.
“Once, a kid gave me a bracelet that she was keeping for two years at the time, as a token of gratitude,” Diane recounts. “It still feels surreal until now, I mean who am I to be entrusted with something that valuable to someone? But yeah, perk of being a volunteer.”
Her passion for volunteerism has not slowed one bit, as she continues to serve in whatever capacity she can. Having had plenty of experience in many different governing bodies, as well as being an editorial writer in her student years, Diane knows the importance of going beyond words, into actual action. This push to serve others, even in her busy schedule, is born out of a knowledge that “You can’t just simply critique, write, talk, and not act. It feels wrong. You also have to be part of the active solution.”
Diane’s journey with volunteerism is just one testimony of the power of serving others out of love. The thing is, when we give of ourselves to serve others, it’s never just one-way. In the end, we reap what we sow. Just ask Diane.
“It’s easier to make money than to make a difference, but making a difference is worth a shot. I promise, it’s always worth a shot.“