Volunteering has always been a part of my life. My mom and dad were both volunteers – at school, in church, and in the community. Volunteering as a child and teenager, I learned about accountability and communication. As a religious education teacher in high school, I learned the importance of preparing ahead of time and teaching others. Volunteering in groups taught me about teamwork and accountability. Those skills and experiences continued throughout college, and I immediately began volunteering once I started my first full-time job. Although I’ve been spoiled in always working for companies that valued professional education, I still learned as much or more about leadership skills by volunteering as I did in the corporate working world.
Many people have asked me over the years how I have found time to volunteer so much. My response is typically that it is just a part of who I am. I can’t think of a time when I did NOT volunteer. I have tried to make it seamless with my work and family. That is, when my kids were younger, I volunteered a lot with their school, church, sports, and other activities. I’ve served on boards for organizations that were very important to me. As a practicing CPA early in my career, I was asked many times to be the treasurer of non-profit organizations. I quickly found that I DIDN’T want to volunteer my time to do what I was doing at work; I wanted different responsibilities so that I was learning new skills and engaging different parts of my creativity and brain. I learned fundraising, organizing, public speaking, and meeting planning skills, which engaged my Woo, Arranger, and Strategic strengths. They weren’t all perfect, of course, but when I was not feeling fulfilled or energized, I moved on to other roles.
My response to those who asked how I found the time to volunteer? I made the time. Volunteering is important to me. It’s important to be generous with my time, to share my gifts and talents with others, and, selfishly, I’m learning every single time.
“Nobody is too busy. It’s just the matter of priorities.” Sunil Vashist
I’ve always thought it was important to volunteer in my profession as well. I was a long-time volunteer for the Indiana CPA Society, the Association of Accounting Administrators, and now with the Society for Human Resource Management. A few weeks ago, I celebrated in Washington DC with SHRM volunteer leaders across the country. As always, we were learning, sharing ideas with other chapters and state councils, creating new networks, and celebrating our successes. I was very proud and honored to be representing the Indiana State Council of SHRM; I have received from them well more than I have given.
Think about volunteering. Where might you utilize your strengths to volunteer for your community? Your profession? With your family? In your faith life? The holiday season is a beautiful time to begin!
“Remember that when you leave this earth, you can take with you nothing that you have received – you take only what you have given.” St. Francis of Assisi