By Heather Pontonio, Program Director, Grants & Creative Individuals
Over the past few months I have had the pleasure of representing ASC on a work team with Wells Fargo for their Community Day of Caring. On June 4 more than 700 Wells Fargo employees, along with their family and friends will take to streets, parks, and offices supplying the volunteer man-power to complete more than 60 projects in the nonprofit community.
What’s amazing about this project is not just the volume of volunteering that will be done that day, but the months of preparation that Wells Fargo employees have put into this event. Wells Fargo has put the full weight of the organization behind this Day of Caring and truly has a commitment to social responsibility in our community. A heartfelt thank you to Jay Everette, Dewey Norwood, the entire Wells Fargo team, and the community partners. I applaud them for all their work to make the Charlotte region a better place to live.
Additionally, there are thousands of individuals who volunteer with non-profits, churches, or schools every week. Organizations like Hands On Charlotte (www.handsoncharlotte.org) provide the link between volunteer projects and the manpower to pull them off. And, almost every nonprofit has their own volunteer coordinator and relies on the kindness of others to fulfill its mission.
But why volunteer? Susan J. Ellis with Energize, Inc. said it best:
“Instead of considering volunteering as something you do for people who are not as fortunate as yourself, begin to think of it as an exchange. Consider that most people find themselves in need at some point in their lives. So today you may be the person with the ability to help, but tomorrow you may be the recipient of someone else’s volunteer effort. Even now you might be on both sides of the service cycle: maybe you are a tutor for someone who can’t read, while last month the volunteer ambulance corps rushed you to the emergency room.”
One person can make a difference! I have spent years teaching basic computer skills at a center and seen individuals become empowered and eventually employed because of these classes. To know that I was able to make a difference in their lives and the ripple to their family, friends, and those they now work with is staggering to think about.
Which leads me to ask – are we all exchanging our skills with others? How can we become a community of volunteers? Imagine what the Charlotte region would be like if every adult citizen, no matter their socio-economic status, volunteered for 3 hours a month. What if every single company, no matter their size, had a Day of Caring that encouraged its employees to volunteer?
I cannot help but think that this community would start to become a family who saw each other a little more eye-to-eye. It would be harder to see the world as US versus THEM. Because, when you volunteer the lines between US and THEM disappear and become WE.