How to Volunteer and Give Back When You Are Busy!

Hi friends, I wanted to introduce you to Garrett (who has previously guest posted on this blog with the article 101 Porn Addiction Side Effects).

Garrett is all about helping all of kinds of addicts in any way he can. He has started an AMAZING app called Pillrs, which basically puts users into anonymous texting groups to help give support to addicts right when they need it.

And guess what? Pillrs has a “village” (anonymous messaging community) just for Marriage Laboratory users! How cool is that?

So, whether you are an addict or not, if you have time for a few encouraging texts each week and are looking for a time efficient way to make an impact, keep reading this article and sign up for our Pillrs group!  I’ll see you there (anonymously)!  – Celeste

Having a happy marriage, a great job, and still having time to volunteer (without losing your sanity) sounds like a pipe dream doesn’t it?

We’re all so busy. When we started asking people about giving back, the answers had a similar tone:

  • “I have two kids, a dog, a fiancee, a full-time job, and a house to maintain. I love to give back to others and help our planet, but just find myself too busy with my own hectic life.”
  • “I have a three year old daughter and there just doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day or money in the bank to achieve everything that I would like. I would love to be able to give back, but it just isn’t possible at the moment.”
  • “I wish I could be in multiple places at one time.”

Sure we want to give back. We’d love to give back. And if there were 36 hours in a day, we would!

It’s a modest request, but some of you may be wondering…

“Do I have to retire before I can do any good in the world?”

With every little thing life throws at you where the heck will the time come from? Is it even realistic to want these things? If you even tried would it just send you to the nuthouse?

I’ve wondered the same thing.

Recently I found myself broke, self-employed, and newly married. I really had no business or time to do anything for anyone besides my wife and myself.

Which is why I love micro volunteering – services that help you take tiny actions that have a big impact.

That is exactly what Pillrs, an app aimed at helping others overcome addiction through community and encouraging texts, provides its users- a way to help others without needing to leave your house or busy schedule.


Allow me to demonstrate it’s power and ease through something that happened to me recently:

As I was eating lunch with my wife, I got a notification on my phone that read,

“I’m sitting in my car arguing with myself about not going to the liquor store. No one would know. My brain is telling me a million reasons why it would be ok. On vacation, no kid, submitted a chapter for a book. Argh.”

I could feel the blood drain quickly from my face, like red wine suddenly knocked off a table.

“Shoot! Honey, Jan needs my help… I need a minute.”

Jan was a woman I’d befriended through the addiction recovery app, Pillrs.

Though I’m not an alcoholic, Pillrs helps me send small encouraging messages – at the right time and anonymously – that can help someone curb their desire to relapse.

I’d been pretty active on the app sending encouragement to various people in my “village”- a personal group of supportive volunteers and addicts that their system creates.

Jan had become one of my favorite people. I knew she worked for a high school and had a son that meant the world to her.

The only other thing I knew about her was her self-description:

“I’m not an alcoholic. I just sometimes have difficulty driving past the liquor store without stopping.”

Well, I knew one more thing: she needed some encouragement.

I messaged back,

“Jan! I’m so impressed that you reached out to us instead of going to the liquor store. What were the reasons you decided to quit in the first place?”


All I could think was, “Please let this work.”

Have you ever had a moment when time slows down? Where every second feels like a minute?

This was one of those times.

She answered back,

“I hate feeling controlled by it. I hate missing time with my son because I’m hungover or sleeping after being out late. I hate the extra weight and the workouts I miss.”

Relief washed over me. I shot back,

“Those are good reasons, what can you do to change your environment as a reward for reaching out to us?”

Our conversation continued for a few more texts but now it was a bit more mundane, less urgent.

In total, I’d sent four messages.

Though the initial response felt like forever, in reality I’d been on my phone for all of 45 seconds. At that point other users jumped in to help and I went back to lunch.

Nearly twenty minutes after her first cry for help, she sent one last message:

“Thank you all for the help! I was able to connect, find some rewards and found a friend to go with me to my first meeting. I’m scared but you all have given me some strength.”

Anyone could do what I did. Yes, even you.
I’m not professionally trained and don’t have special talents.

The difference was I was there. I was there when I was needed. I was there to ask questions and show encouragement.

It really isn’t hard.

Anyone could have done this. Heck, you’ve probably given a friend encouragement today that made a difference and didn’t even realize it.
This could easily have been your story.

It still can.

You can join a special support village just for Marriage Laboratory readers by signing up here and downloading the app.

Here’s what to expect:

Do you love 1000 notifications a day? Of course not. No one does.

Early on I got about 5-10 notifications a day for the first two days. Pillrs uses a complex algorithm to determine the best people to ask for help. Then after a few days it calmed down quite a bit.

Does it require a complex registration processes with a dozen form entries?
Nope. Just your phone number.

Here is the step-by-step registration process:
1. Download the app here.
2. Open it and look around (you don’t have to tell them anything until you’re ready to participate)
3. Register. To register, try to reply or send an SOS. No need to provide an email address.

Have 72 hours a day to volunteer? No?
Great! That’s the entire point.

Generally, I open the app about four times a week. You can participate more (or less) if you’d like as well.

What about being trained?
If I can do it, you can do it. Basically, if you can say “good job,” “Hey I’m here,” or “I’m listening,” you’ll make a phenomenal volunteer.

I’ve found that my biggest job is to break the loneliness. And when I don’t have the time, someone else jumps in.

Hopefully our villages will intersect. Maybe next time it’ll be you coming to my aid when I need it.

See you in Pillrs. I can’t wait to hear your story!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *