April 6, 2012

Sometimes you have to feel the difference

There is a perception in this world that we think and say, "What's in it for me?" Actually, it is more of a reality. Fifty years ago, it was normal to join a group like an Optimist Club in order to give something back to the community. Today, potential and existing members evaluate the time that they will have to give to attend meetings and projects and look for how their involvement will advance their career.

Rarely do individuals examine the social nature of belonging and I find that even after many years of participating, I still have trouble putting it into words succinctly. The experience is different for each individual, but for me, belonging to an Optimist Club means that I have:
  • The opportunity to learn about what is happening in my community from learned experts during presentations at club meetings
  • A social group that shares similar values and goals
  • A network of peers that I work with to conceive and perform projects that make our community a great place to live
  • Knowledge and appreciation of the work performed by others in order to collaborate, not duplicate, efforts
  • An increased awareness of local, national and international challenges
  • The willingness to take the steps to make a difference. 

In writing this post, it comes to my mind that making a difference should not be the key motivator for service for the words imply that there are immediate benefits to our actions when we volunteer our time. It belies the reality that time, planning, fundraising, and other critical steps must be taken by someone in order for everyone to realize the benefits of action; not to mention it ignores that there are consequences of inaction or misguided action. 

That is why nonprofit and charitable organizations persist. It's easy to give money for others to organize so that you may, or may not, show up to perform a volunteer task. If you are truly committed to taking the steps to make a difference in your community, I ask that you reconsider your gift. Instead of money, please give your time and perform ground roots organizing through a service club. Your end result may not be as flashy, but your efforts will be more sincere. You will feel the difference rather than see it. 

Please click here if you would like more information about joining an Optimist Club in your community.
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