When I go to meetings, I often see the same faces. These are dedicated folks who believe in making a difference, and who believe there is a difference to be made. They sometimes suffer criticism instead of praise for their efforts, but this does not deter them. They show up, give their opinions, lend their support, stand up for the promise of a better tomorrow, and forge ahead. They volunteer for business groups, animal welfare activities, social justice causes, civic improvement organizations, and anything else you can think of that will make your life and mine a little better. They don’t get paid, and most go unrecognized. These engines for change are the lifeblood of a vibrant community. If you aren’t currently working for the betterment of the community as a volunteer, here are a five reasons you might want to come to the next meeting of interest to you, and sit down at the table.
Ideas are the seeds of change. Without ideas, there would be no iPad, iPhone, or iMac. There would be no interactive notebook that responds to a touch. There would be no music, no art, no books, no invention of any kind. It all begins with an idea. If you think your ideas aren’t important, think again. You can and will make a difference, but only if you are at the table.
I’ve been at the table many times, perhaps too many times, some might say. My perspective comes from my frame of reference. I still believe my perspective has value, but so does yours. When decisions are being made your thoughts count. If you aren’t present, those thoughts won’t be heard, not because your perspective is being ignored, but because you aren’t there to represent it.
It is an unfortunate fact of organizations that sometimes leaders become mired in procedure and process and forget their primary purpose, whatever that may be. The board and membership ages. Individual members become complacent or overburdened. In either case the lid must be kicked off the box so new energy, new leaders, new members can come pouring in. Leadership development is as critical as new ideas. Your presence and participation as a new volunteer can make that happen. You can learn from and be mentored by seasoned volunteers.
Nobody brings to the table what you bring. Your experience at every level will help inform and define the organization you become involved in. You will get out of it exactly what you put into it. Your experience will make the organization better and stronger for your participation.
Getting acquainted with people you don’t ordinarily encounter is an excellent way to expand your horizons. Their energy, their ideas, their dedication will energize you, inspire you, and broaden your creativity. Studies have shown that people who are more involved and engaged in life are happier. Volunteering is good for you. So, come to the table. Be a part of making your community great. Just as seeds need water and sun to grow, organizations need your fresh ideas, perspective, and experience. They need you to kick the lid off the box and pour in your creativity and energy. And isn’t it encouraging to know you will benefit from the experience?