Lend a Hand

Posted on: March 29, 2017  |  Posted in: Community Blog

“Lend a Hand” is a blog that showcases the importance of getting involved and playing an active role within your community.  Topics explored are intended to inspire action and understand more about the community around you.  Share and repost and lend a hand in spreading the message!

“What’s in it for me?”

“What is the essence of life? To serve others and to do good.”- Aristotle (384-322 BC)

Hey, I know, you can look at the quote like a fortune cookie because who really knows the meaning of life, but if you stop and think about it for a minute, it is kind of amazing that no matter how far you look back into time that individuals felt that the importance of our existence was about the service of others. In my nonprofit career, many of those who have asked to get involved have often cited why they wanted to get involved including, “I need community service hours for my college application…”, “I don’t have any wok experience, how do I start…” and “If I volunteer, I am eligible for a service medal.”  Hey, I’m not saying I’ve never had those reasons influence my involvement, but what I am saying is to not forget the wider impact you are making.  Don’t just focus on what YOU get out of the experience, but rather think about how YOU make a difference for someone else.  Let’s face it, we don’t always have spare time, and when you think of giving this precious resource away without compensation it’s easy to get defeated or just push it off for another week.  So here’s a short list of what OTHERS get out of it:

  • A “Friend”
  • A “Role Model” for your kids or someone else’s kids
  • A “New Supporter” in the community able to voice the importance of another’s work
  • A “Pseudo Coworker” able to double the work they could not have done without YOU
  • An “Out of Box thinker” who provides a unique and outside perspective to their work
  • An “Advocate” who is now better informed from working on an issue or situation
  • An “Informant” to better understand the communities in which others live in
Fun Fact: According to the Independent Sector, California  values volunteer time for professionals at $27.59/hour (Comment Bubble; margins; different font/color)

The list of benefits for others can go on for days, but let these reasons at least keep you “Showing Up” and drive your on-going involvement because believe me that it truly matters.  Did you know, in the nonprofit sector, nonprofits often track hours because each hour donated helps explain a bigger picture of support or impact around the work being conducted?  Nonprofits can then claim that over a year’s time all these volunteer hours go into saving the agency hundreds, thousands, or event millions of dollars!  That’s pretty cool if you ask me.

But now, let’s get back to you…I often say, “The door swings both ways”…so what do you get out of it?  Well for those seeking to update a resume, a college application, or writing on your personal accolades that we’ve mentioned above think of how YOU can incorporate nonprofit logic for your own accords.  Track your own hours and then find out how much you saved the agency/agencies you worked with by attaching a dollar amount to it. You’d be surprised how far this figure can go especially if you volunteer year round.  So pick your favorite agency/agencies and figure out how YOU can make a difference in the lives of OTHERS.

Stuck or don’t exactly know how to get started?  Just ask yourself, “Who you enjoy working with?” or “What interests you”?  I’m sure there’s a way to find out more about that group by just doing a quick Google search.  And if local to San Diego, I can tell you in my current role as the Senior Program Director for SAY San Diego and the San Diego Military Family Collaborative, a collection of over 100 agencies, that there’s a wealth of groups that are making a difference in the lives of military families so just take a look at our webpages and get started!


Bio on Author:

Daniel Romero is a nonprofit professional who has served San Diego County for over a decade.  He has a wealth of knowledge working in diverse communities of San Diego developing creative and innovative programs intended to improve communities and empower individuals to better their lives and surroundings.  Whether working on educational initiatives, volunteer/civic engagement, youth development, or adult workforce programs, Mr. Romero’s approach is to be a proactive agent of change.  Finally, Mr. Romero is an alumni of AmeriCorps and University of San Diego Master’s program of Nonprofit Leadership and Management and dedicates spare time to supporting local agencies including a board role with HandsOn San Diego. For more information connect with him via LinkedIn!