I would consider myself active in the community. I mean I’ve always been one of those people who has given back to others by donating dollars. For many years, I’ve been an active donor to the United Way, participated in fundraisers which support things from Relay for Life, YWCA, Autism, Domestic Violence and the fight against hunger. I even co-managed our United Way corporate campaign for two years and was able to increase employee donations from $14,500 to $40,000! Although, I know that my dollar donations have gone to support great things, I began to feel like I was missing a true need in giving back, especially to my direct community.
Volunteering my time was never something on my radar. I worked full time, so during the day wouldn’t work and my weekends, well, those were my only time to veg out and spend time with my family. Plus, where would I volunteer? I have no real skills. I mean I loved photography, crafting, hiking and other outdoor activities, but how could that translate into serving the community? So, instead of looking into volunteering any further, I just never did it and stayed true to my participation in food drives, bake sale fundraisers, payroll deduction etc.
Then my outlook forever changed.
At the end of 2013, WSECU began to talk about the upcoming changes to our membership and opening our doors to other like-minded community members. With this change came our desire to be more active in our individual communities and provide a service that would help enrich and meet the needs of the community members. To help WSECU meet this desire to be more present, they offered each employee eight hours of paid release time to use towards volunteering at an organization or school of their choosing.
Although I had been hesitant (okay lazy) before in identifying volunteer opportunities, I felt like I had a renewed sense of purpose in finding my own niche in the community because the credit union was supporting me in this effort. After working with the United Way of Lewis County, I found that specific niche, the Reading Buddy Program. I signed myself up, attended training, passed the background check (phew) and started my first day at RE Bennett Elementary working with a second-grade classroom. I was assigned to read with seven different readers over the course of the school year and although I wasn’t originally sure how my one hour a week would really help these students, I quickly learned that the hour provided them with exactly what they needed. My hour a week assisted these seven students in drastically raising their reading level, further setting them up for success throughout their life. Those students weren’t the only ones who benefitted though. I felt like I was making a difference in my community’s future and was now hooked on searching for other opportunities to volunteer.
Join me in giving back to your community. Donate one hour a month to an organization you're passionate about and help make the future of your community and its members brighter! Share your story and get others involved! You’ll feel so enriched for doing so.