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Monday, September 17, 2007

The Value in Volunteering

This year has been an extremely blessed one for me thus far. I think that I can contribute my happiness to how fulfilling it is to be responsible for so many other people's happiness. I spend a good deal of my time working in non-profit organizations dedicating my time and expertise as a volunteer. The experiences that volunteering has brought me have been indispensable.

When I first started coaching, I found it difficult to maintain a steady stream of clients from a marketing standpoint. I wasn't completely sure how to get in front of my target audience. That all changed once I began volunteering. I aligned myself with quality organizations that had a mission and values very close to my own. Social organizations that aimed to satisfy specific goals for the betterment of one's financial status were at the top of my list, followed by those that catered to the business world. Very soon I was given the opportunity to showcase my talents to potential clients. It wasn't long before I had built a solid clientele along with a great referral database. Additionally, the diverse backgrounds of my fellow volunteers allowed me to build a valuable list of resources.

Volunteering not only played a part in building my business but it also opened my eyes to a wealth of unusual philanthropic ventures. One unique opportunity presented itself in the form of playing a part as an extra in a major motion film. Rather than collecting the standard hourly fee, the whole of my paycheck was donated on my behalf to a local charity. I enjoyed the excitement of being on set so much that I signed up with the casting company for future projects and was called back for a paid gig. I would never have known about the movie had it not been for my avid seeking of new volunteer projects.

Chicago Public Schools now require all high school students to perform a minimum of forty hours worth of service learning hours to graduate. This is one of the best criterion ever suggested. My own daughter, who is currently a freshman, embarked on her volunteer journey this past weekend. She desires to become a professional singer and so when we came across a posting for live entertainers, we jumped on the opportunity. Her very first service learning hour was earned doing something she loved, singing, while serving a community who badly needed some fun, our senior citizens. The seniors were delighted to hear her sing.

Volunteering is valuable for so many reasons. You can try new things, gain new resources, develop and hone skills and help lighten the load for others. Whether you are a student or a retired baby boomer, volunteering can be a great way to remain active and keep in tune with the world around you. How can you pay it forward today?

Happy Living!

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