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"Selfish" volunteering

We all know that volunteering can be about helping others and doing good. But there's another type of volunteering, let's call it "selfish" volunteering. By this I mean offering to provide services or work somewhere for free so you can take advantage of something you either love, can't afford otherwise or just want to be a part of. I did this recently for the US Open. I love tennis. I'm a member of the United States Tennis Association (USTA), play in the USTA leagues and conveniently live 5 minutes from The Billy Jean King National Tennis Center (NTC). Every year they ask for volunteers from the USTA to work various areas of the Open. What this means is a 4-5 hour shift in exchange for getting into the grounds for free and then being able to watch matches before and/or after your shift - for free! Yes, up close and personal with the athletes on some of the smaller courts even, for an incredible experience. And of course, an even better price tag.

Serena and Venus Williams playing doubles. I sat in her family's "box".

Milos Raonic, the #5 seed and eventual quarter-finalist.

My role for 'working' depended on where I was stationed. One day I did a very long back-to-back shift of 8 hours for USTA member appreciation day. We were inside all day which wasn't ideal because the weather was amazing that day, but I got to help kids and adults play Wii tennis all day. And of course, meet some really nice people, to boot. Another time I worked for the USTA Foundation booth where we sold hats in exchange for donations. The Foundation provides tennis to underserved and disabled youth, so a worthy cause. You get a meal card, which due to prices at the US Open just pays for your meal, but again, you see free tennis!

Andy Murray signing those infamous giant tennis balls.

The Bryan Brothers, the most successful doubles team in history, taking a break from practice.

The US Open is expensive. Like, very expensive. Some of the cheapest tickets are still upwards of $60, which just isn't affordable if say, you have a family. Or don't run a hedge fund. And the food will bankrupt you. Not to mention those giant tennis balls are $45. Yes, you read that right. $45. For. A. Tennis. Ball.

So when given the option to attend an event I love and do it for free, I jumped at the chance.

Have you ever volunteered to get into somewhere for free? I'd love to hear about it.

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