Volunteering is a Two-Way Street, by Michael Angelidis
Giving back is very important to any society and volunteers are integral. Today we all lead extremely busy lives and it can be hard to find time. However, the benefits are enormous; providing important support to organizations, like OHBD, dedicated to worthy causes all over the globe. One of the more well-known benefits of volunteering is the impact on the community which allows members to connect and make it a better place.
Volunteering is a two-way street. And, the benefits can be even greater for the volunteer. It can benefit us individually as well as our family and friends just as much and sometime more than the cause we choose to help. Dedicating time as a volunteer helps us make new friends, expands our networks, and boosts our social, leadership and technical skills.
As a high school teacher and coach, I see volunteerism lead to increased ability to work within teams, better communication skills, enhanced problem-solving ability as well as more tactical skills like project and task organization, planning and management – valuable skills in any context. Volunteerism also allows people from different socio-economic or cultural backgrounds to interact in a common endeavor.
A couple of my Global Basketball players ran an OHBD fundraiser earlier in the year and shared how life changing the experience was for them. They learned about the disparity in opportunities globally as well as the power they have to contribute to closing that gap.
As I encouraged my students to volunteer with our OHBD events and other efforts over the years, I have seen firsthand the positive impact including allowing people with totally different personalities (shy vs out going, for example) to work together; giving families a chance to have a common purpose, like Ellenore and my family. We have many other family examples, such as, the mother of two basketball players mentioned above volunteers as an illustrator for our #ReadySetGo books. My students always want to know if we met our goal and often write about the impact being a part of something bigger than themselves. It provides them a sense of purpose, accomplishment, and pride.
But volunteerism isn’t all serious. My students find ways to make it fun – planning celebrations after a volunteer event and making what might seem like a mundane job more entertaining by doing it with friends and taking the role, but not themselves, too serious. I would encourage everyone to see how they can volunteer for something where they have passion or where they want to learn more. OHBD has lots of opportunities, and we couldn’t do our work effectively without the support of many talented, generous people who give us their time and their talents every day.