A Few Words

I had to say a few words at a volunteer awards luncheon today. “Speeches” are not at the top of my list of favorite things, so I have been agonizing over this for a couple weeks. I received several compliments on what I shared, so I thought I would post it for others to read as well. Since many of you don’t know, I direct volunteer efforts at a local United Way.

The Power of 9 Awards Luncheon has always been near and dear to my heart as I love to hear the stories of people volunteering in our community. These stories are about change–not just about the ways that volunteers are changing our community for the better, but about how volunteers are changed thru the act of service.

My own life story speaks to the change that happens when one volunteers.

One of my first volunteer positions was working with the local United Way in Lake County, Illinois on volunteer projects and their youth advisory board just as Emerald does with us at our United Way.

As a college student, my perspective was broadened through volunteer service trips throughout the Southeast and even into Mexico. My early experiences as a volunteer instilled within me an ethic of service.

Seven and a half years ago, my life was forever changed when I came to Baton Rouge to volunteer in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. It was not a hard decision for me at all—there was a need and I was available to help, so that’s what I did. A month later I was offered a job managing volunteers doing just what I had done, coming in from out of state to help in the relief and recovery efforts. It was at that point that I really came to understand how volunteering can change someone’s life.

In my own life, volunteering opened my eyes to needs, it compelled me to move, I changed careers… But the story of change and transformation in my life through volunteering does not have an end—it is an ongoing story that continues to write itself as I seek out places to invest my time.

This story is not unique to my own life—you, too, can experience the power of volunteering.

Anne Frank is quoted as saying: “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” I believe that is true. And the volunteers that we honored today are living that out in their stories. And for that I say thank you. Thank you for the dinners cooked, the phone calls made, the patients seen, the girls running, the many visits here and there…all done because of a conscious choice to serve.

I want to once again thank Capital One Bank and WAFB-TV for making this awards program possible, not only today, but throughout the year to allow us to highlight great stories of volunteer service in our community.

We could not do it without them and it’s a partnership we deeply value.

Donna, a special thank you for your commitment to this program and your involvement ALL year long.

If you know of a volunteer who is worthy of the Power of 9 Honors award, please share their story with us. We have provided you with a nomination form in your program. You can also find an online form to nominate a volunteer on our website.

I want to take a moment to say thank you to ALL the volunteers in the room today. Our community is a better place because of you. If you are still looking for a place to give of your time and talents, please know that we at the volunteer center and United Way are more than happy to help you. As you have seen volunteering can be you, it can be your family, your social club or your workplace. It can be large, it can be small, but it doesn’t have to wait.

Thank you.