The concept of volunteerism has always been an important aspect of my life. In fact, I started volunteering way back in the first grade when I assisted a class for physically and mentally challenged children. I erased blackboards and emptied wastebaskets, basically, all of the things we take for granted that these children could not do. As I grew older, volunteerism remained a part of my life. As of today, I have been volunteering through my local SHRM chapter, HR Tampa, and the HR Florida State Council for over 11 years.
I honestly believe that the gift of your time is the best gift you can give to another and to yourself. With this belief, I learned respect and sensitivity at a young age through wonderful memories and lessons that have lasted a lifetime.
In 1908, Theodore Roosevelt said, “Every man owes a part of his time and money to the industry to which he is engaged. No man has a moral right to withhold his support from an organization that is striving to improve conditions within his sphere.” I take that quote to heart. It is impossible for me to imagine not being involved in my profession or my community.
This year, I am transitioning into a new role for the council as Member Engagement Director. I’m very excited about my new role. When Heather Vogel, our State Council President, approached me with the idea of filling this role, ideas immediately were running through my head. I know from experience, the key to success is developing innovative ideas. As Certification Chair for HR Tampa, my vision for the study group was to earn a reputation that would get professionals into the study group, get to know us, become involved and play a key role into growing our chapter into a mega chapter. It worked. Now in my new role with member engagement I have another opportunity make a difference through innovative ideas. One of my first ideas was to provide frequent tips and tidbits of information to provoke our members and other HR professionals to think about engagement in their chapters. If I can help our members feel a part of something bigger while enhancing the culture of our organization, I have done my job.
In another volunteer life, I am a beginning Taoist Tai Chi instructor. Master Moy formed the Taoist Tai Chi Society when he emigrated to Canada in 1970. Master Moy never accepted payment for teaching and he would fly to Florida and other locations, sometimes just to teach two students. He believed in selfless giving and compassion. From those humble beginnings 40 years ago, there are close to 700 centers around the world, 5000+ members and a strong, consistent world culture. We are members…we pay dues…instructors are accredited; we are still volunteers…What keeps me engaged? Our culture is strong, the message is clear and consistent, and we offer unwavering value. Most importantly, I feel that I’m important to the Society. I’m creating and achieving value.
Master Moy frequently said, “You don’t know whose life you are going to affect today.” This really hit home for me at our HR Florida Leadership conference in January. Lisa Krouse, a respected attorney and current volunteer leader for HR Florida led a discussion on retention. She opened with a story describing what led to her choice to become a volunteer leader within HR Florida and continue to be involved. Lisa shared that I made her feel important and part of something special through our volunteer connection. Talk about making someone feel important. It is not always easy to see the full impact you may have on others. This instance made it obvious to me. At that moment, I was on top of the world. I am engaged and ultimately inspired to do more, all because I helped make someone else feel important. Who have you made feel important today?