Q&A: Why Do You Volunteer?

Volunteering is a passion for giving back to your community, large or small, and truly believing you are making a difference. The four people highlighted in the article below come to our roundtable with a variety of volunteer experience inside the HOA and abroad. We interviewed past and present board members, active liaisons and committee members, and industry partners committed to making our world a better place.

  1. Why do you volunteer?

Kevin: I volunteer to both give back and to pay it forward.  Whether it be in my own community (South Riding) where I live or in other places /organizations that have touched my life in some way such as my undergraduate university, the College of William & Mary.  I like to find ways to give my time, talent and treasure to help promote the common good and the missions of those organizations.  I feel strongly rather than complaining about what is wrong or what needs to be addressed, one can often volunteer to become part of the solution and help make those effective changes.  Volunteering has opened many doors for me and has also broadened my social network in a diverse and meaningful way.  I am a firm believer that I am a better person today because of my many volunteer experiences.

Kara: It’s a great way to stay in tune with our industry and show our support of the managers/homeowners. I believe that getting involved is the best way to learn hands on. Doors for networking with existing clients and meeting new potential accounts is always a possibility. Often the volunteer situation is a win-win because I enjoy the tasks at hand and the company of the other members/friends.

Greg: I volunteer because I know that service to others is important.  Service to the community is something the Bible and the Constitution look favorably upon and I like to help solve problems.

Leigh: I volunteer because it’s a set of values that have been engraved into me from childhood on how important it is to help others. I feel that giving back is the right thing to do and it gives me a sense of pride and gratitude. I love the quote; “be the change you want to see in this world” and try to apply that lens to the things I do in my life.

  1. What first inspired you to volunteer?

Kevin: As I stated above, the ability to make a difference or to bring a diverse and/or purposeful perspective to the organization and debate.  Many of my early volunteer experiences at William and Mary came from being involved and engaged with my class and demonstrating leadership while a student on campus.  This carried over into my life as an alumnus.  Other volunteer experiences have been more politically motivated.  My volunteer work in South Riding was spurred by a failed Dulles District School Board Campaign.  I needed a way to channel the energy in a positive and meaningful way in my community.  My main goal was to make a positive difference in our community where I could implement some of my ideas “locally” and to be a good role model for my two young sons at the time.

Kara: I was originally encouraged by my boss to get involved and learn the business. It quickly snowballed into enjoying the ability to educate or support the association and make a difference for other members.

Greg: I was blessed with critical thinking skills and a solid math aptitude.  These features helped me in my personal life and I feel like using these skills for the good of the community is something God calls upon me to do.

Leigh: It has always been something that has been a part of my life, as a child we were always doing something as a family with our Church or other civic groups that my parents were involved with. As a mom to two young children, this is a set of values that is very important to me that I pass down to my children.

  1. How long have you been volunteering?

Kevin: I have been volunteering in some capacity whether it be for organizations I am affiliated with or those members of my family are affiliated with, for nearly 25 years.

Kara: 15 ½ years. I actually worked our booth and attended the Conference & Expo a couple of weeks before I was technically on Minkoff’s payroll. It was literally my first experience with the Community Management world!

Greg: Four years; swimming referee and officiating duties- 8 years; soccer coach/referee- 5 years; Church Tech booth- three years.

Leigh: For as long as I can remember. Over the years the types of projects and organizations that I have been involved with has evolved and changed due to workload and children. I have done everything from boots on the ground work to board service.

  1. Describe the organizations you volunteer with. (HOA board, Committee, local, state, national or global level)

Kevin: Here is a short list of some of the organizations I have volunteers for in the past:

College of William and Mary, Loudoun County Government; South Riding Proprietary, Loudoun County Democratic Committee

Kara: I try to keep my finger on the pulse of all the associations we belong to. I’ve served at the committee level of WMCCAI & CRCCAI for 15+ years. I was the President of the CRCCAI chapter and served on the Board for WMCCAI. Eventually I was recruited to serve on my condo Board in the roles of Secretary, Treasurer, and Vice President for 8 years. I learned a lot and gained a broader perspective by wearing the various hats as a Business Partner and as a Home Owner.

Greg: HOA President; Broadlands Swim Team Referee; Church Tech Booth volunteer.   These are all within the boundaries of the local community.

Leigh: Most all my involvement has been at the local level.

  1. What is the main thing you gain personally from volunteering?

Kevin: I gain a feeling of personal responsibility.  Again, this comes with the feeling of giving back and to paying it forward…with knowing you did your best in whatever volunteer endeavor you are trying to tackle.

Kara: I generally feel accomplished on a variety of levels. Making industry friends and building relationships is always a personal gain.

Greg: Sometimes the skills gained and lessons learned from trying something new are only available in a volunteer opportunity.  Leading, asking people to be accountable, decision-making with impactful results; analyzing courses of action- these things might not be available to people in their day jobs, but when these opportunities come up at work, the volunteer experience can be a “fall-back” and with that comes experience and confidence because we “learn by doing”.

Leigh: For years, my husband and I would volunteer to serve the evening meal at the local soup kitchen on Mondays. I came to need those days in my life, they were grounding and always put things into perspective. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the day to day struggles of work and life but after a shift at the soup kitchen, none of the stressors that had seemed to weigh heavily on me throughout the day seemed to even matter. I feel that I have been so blessed in my life and giving back is a way that I can show how thankful I am.

The 2018 Volunteering In America report found that 77.34 million adults, or 30.3 percent of the American population, volunteered through an organization last year. According to the Corporation for National Community Service, Americans volunteered nearly 6.9 billion hours, worth an estimated $167 billion in economic value. This same research found that Americans are giving of more than just their time. Volunteers donate to charity at twice the level of non-volunteers.

What inspires volunteers to give of their time and effort is varied and yet strikingly similar. The act of giving back, typically drives the inspiration, whether helping an individual by delivering a meal, working a trade show booth to help a non-profit organization, or building, cleaning or landscaping a playground to help a broader community.

The origin of this inspiration to volunteer is deep rooted and blooms at different times for different people. Some are shown the way by their parents at an early age. Some are shown as adults through mentorship by employers or business associates. To others this inspiration comes from a spiritual place, through Church or civic groups.

The levels at which volunteers participate range from the local to the global. What determines the level is typically the group or organization for which the volunteer is donating his or her time.

What is gained personally from volunteering is an opportunity to make friends and build relationships, learn lessons, and most importantly, to put your life into perspective.

By Kevin P. Kelly and Sara Castle

Kevin is a Business Development Specialist with the full-service marketing firm, Graphcom. He works out of Graphcom’s signage division. Kevin has worked in the sign industry since 1981 and has worked in almost every area within a sign company. He currently sits on the Quorum Editorial Committee.

Sara is a regional growth and retention manager at BrightView Landscape Services. BrightView is the region’s choice as a landscape maintenance provider for homeowner associations. We have 11 local branches in the Washington Metro area and provide in-house landscape maintenance, snow removal, tree care, design, irrigation, and landscape enhancement services.

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