One of the great opportunities for personal development is doing volunteer work. Every community or industry organization needs volunteers. They need people to do all kinds of things. If you want to practice you leadership skills or any other skill, volunteering is a great learning place.
Over the years the things I learned volunteering far exceeded the time. The other great thing is that you are appreciated by everyone.
I was involved for many years with Catholic Children’s Aid Society of Metro Toronto(CCAS). CCAS is the largest Catholic service organization in North America. I started out on one of the committees, then on the board, and then president. Chairing a board of twenty people was a great challenge. To make the meetings productive and meaningful to the participants was quite a challenge. We met from noon till 2 PM so everything had to be timed well. I learned how important inclusion activity was in such a large group. It took time but made the meeting so productive. We faced lots of difficult issues and I think we did well at tackling them.
In addition I am proud to say I created some secession planning as we had excellent presidents several years after I left.
I cherish those experiences. I was also involve with our trade association and a couple of industry associations. Harvey always said to work you way up to be chairman or president and then move on. Great advice. I did however find working in the trenches provided the most immediate satisfaction. The direct service work really gives you a feel for the issues the organization faces.
I was amazed when Harvey retired and went to volunteer with the VON (Victorian Order of Nurses). Among others, he worked with a blind person, basically being a seeing eye person for him. I am sure the things he did were more involved than that but it was more the tone of his service that got to me.
When he went to Florida for the winter he visited a shut-in man who spoke a peculiar dialect of Yiddish that Harvey knew from Poland (or his family background – cause he was 4 when he left Poland).
But continuing on the subject of volunteering: The Ontario government requires high school students to accumulate 40 hours of volunteer time in order to graduate from high school. I like the idea because it gets students exposed to the concept of volunteering that they no longer get from religious affiliations – due to dwindling attendance to churches, synagogues & mosques. But I’ve also heard there is a black market in volunteer hours where kids without enough hours buy them from students with a surplus of hours. Kind of defeats the purpose of the volunteering morality lesson.