As we approach the holiday season, it seems appropriate to talk about an area I am very passionate about – giving back. In networking with other business owners, I find that one of the biggest areas we all struggle with is having enough time to “get it all done”. I can relate on a daily basis! However, in my life, both personal and business, I have found that supporting non-profit programs is an area I consider not optional, although over the years, the organizations I give back to have changed, and the method by which I give has changed as well.
We must be flexible in our lives, and also in our methods of handling our schedules. I feel out of balance when I am not giving back. Being a single parent for over twenty years, both time and money were limited. But somehow, I still found the time to volunteer. When my kids were younger, I chose to do give back through their schools and in their activities. Sometimes it was selling wrapping paper, other times being an usher for dance shows; but there was always a way I could fulfil my need to support the programs that were supporting my family.
As my kids got older, I felt called to do something more. I started with SARC, a Harford County based organization that supports victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. After completing the training required to work with clients, I began volunteering with the Helpline, a 24-hour service for domestic victims and potential victims to receive live support, guidance and direction. I also signed up as an on-call companion for individuals who were in the hospital after an assault. These experiences, while chilling, were incredibly moving for me, and I believe further solidified my desire to give back. I also offered help during the holidays by packaging Thanksgiving baskets and wrapping Christmas gifts for clients. Though I no longer volunteer with SARC, I still do what I can to support this incredible organization.
As First Act has continued to blossom, I had to align my desire to give back with the need to support the continued growth of the business. For me, that need was in part filled through the establishment of Top of the Bay Business Women. TOTB was created in 2010. Laura Mayse, previous Executive Director of the Cecil County Chamber of Commerce, recognized that women network very differently. She invited twelve ladies within the Chamber that she felt might be able to take the idea of a women’s networking group and run with it. Two of those original members are still leading TOTB today, myself and Paula Lucas, Corporate Relationship Officer with Howard Bank. As president of this amazing group of women, leading TOTB has provided me the ability to give back, while growing awareness of First Act at the same time. We meet monthly to network, share business and grow relationships, both business and personal. In addition, we have created an annual Give Back Day as one of our monthly meetings. Last year, we worked with Habitat for Humanity Susquehanna, with two different builds taking place at that time. We are looking forward to our next Give Back Day, which will be on Wednesday, May 27, 2015, and are currently accepting submissions for what project(s) we will be working on. TOTB also gives back during the holidays with various Adopt-a-Family programs and other donation collections.
For many, and certainly for me, giving back also means supporting one’s church. As a member of Union Chapel United Methodist Church from the age of six, I learned very early what it means to give back. Once again, as my life has progressed, so has my means of giving back within Union Chapel. From regular offerings, to youth group leader when my kids were younger, to my current role as Superintendent of Education, my desire to give back was certainly born through my incredible church family.
So, while my hectic family and First Act schedules would tempt me to pull away from giving back, my heart says otherwise. Consider what you can do to support others. Find a way to give back. Whether it is financial or giving of your time, you will find great reward in giving “it” away!
Following are links to the organizations referenced in this article. For more volunteer opportunities and organizations, visit VolunteerHarford.com http://www.harfordcountymd.gov/volunteer/Index.cfm?ID=2774
Habitat for Humanity Susquehanna