Conversations with three volunteers show that giving back not only strengthens communities, but sharpens professional skills and provides a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment.
Paid job: Director for Information Systems, Prudential Financial, Roseland, N.J.
Volunteer role: Counselor, Camp Fatima of New Jersey. Camp Fatima hosts two one-week overnight camp sessions each summer for children with disabilities, and provides each camper with a counselor to assist with individual needs.
Q: What work do you do with the camp?
A: I am a volunteer counselor, running projects, but I also work to put together teams of volunteers from Prudential and to raise money for the camp. I’ve earned PruCARES Volunteer Grants for Camp Fatima the past five years totaling $20,500.
Q: How did you get involved with Camp Fatima?
A: I started as a counselor in 1975 when I was in my early 20’s. I saw an advertisement in the newspapers recruiting volunteer counselors. I had three weeks of vacation time, but limited funds to do any traveling, and I thought it would be a great way to use my vacation time to meet new people while being involved in a worthwhile cause.
Q: What do you get, personally, out of volunteering?
A: Well, I met my husband at Camp Fatima in 1975. We were both there as very young volunteers. Aside from that, I get a lot of personal satisfaction, going and being involved. It reminds me that work is important, but other things happen too.
Q: What do you get, professionally, from volunteering?
A: This fulfills the diversity objective of our annual objectives. It involves people from all over the company, helping me get to know more people at Prudential. It has also given me a chance to exercise my management skills, mentoring people to be volunteer project leaders.
Paid job: Senior associate, Booz Allen Hamilton, McLean, Va.
Volunteer role: Pro-bono consultant for Rebuilding Together, based in Washington, D.C. Rebuilding Together is a national nonprofit organization that works to renovate and refurbish homes for families in need. Bruce and his team performed an organizational assessment, helped create a strategic plan, and are working with Rebuilding Together to execute that plan.
Q: How did you get involved in Rebuilding Together?
A: Booz Allen had a long history of providing Rebuilding Together with volunteer crews to refurbish houses. Over time Rebuilding Together was growing so quickly and they came to us asking for management expertise to “get to the next level.” It was in what we call the “Founding Era,” characterized by an organization being driven by a few people with great passion, but without a lot of structure. They needed us to help them move into the “Management Era,” to run more like a business. I’m moved by Rebuilding Together’s mission of building communities around healthy homes, and I jumped at the chance to get involved.
Q: What do you get out of volunteering?
A: There’s something about a project being pro-bono that makes it special. It’s counterintuitive to the capitalism mentality but there’s a gratification you can’t get from doing something for profit.
Q: How has volunteering affected your work?
A: Booz Allen is tremendously committed to building the community in which it lives, works and plays, and this is one small example. It has brought me closer to the firm and to my colleagues.
Paid job: Marketing development manager and senior vice president, Bank of America, Charlotte, N.C.
Volunteer role: Board member, United Way of Central Carolinas, Charlotte, N.C. United Way of Central Carolinas works with agencies, local businesses, donors and communities to provide support through funding and services.
Q: Why do you volunteer?
A: I volunteer not only with United Way, but in general, because I believe it is the right thing to do as a human being. People volunteer in different ways, financially or by giving time. I consider it part of my purpose for being here. It is also beneficial for me in that it is a quick way to become part of a community.
Q: How did you come to be a volunteer with United Way?
A: I have probably been on 10 or so boards. I like to contribute my services on one board then roll off so I can help someone else. The position as a board member at United Way was another opportunity; it was the right fit at the right time.
Q: What do you get out of volunteering?
A: I gain a lot personally. I feel I am giving back to the community and helping those less fortunate. I don’t look at it from a professional standpoint. What I can gain from it professionally doesn’t drive me.
Q: How has volunteering affected the way feel about your employer?
A: It makes me feel good that I work for a company that cares about the needs of the community. Bank of America provides their employees with two hours a week to go work for a nonprofit and has lots of programs supporting volunteerism.
— Compiled by Caroline Monday