Colleen Richardson's Story:
Describing my volunteer involvements, I am now aware that my commitment to give community service was an exercise in good karma: volunteering actually gave me so much more of a return than the time and effort I gladly donated!
Throughout my career, I actively joined efforts with professional organizations to collaborate with colleagues focused on expediting successful endeavors. Assisting with extracurricular special projects and standing committee work soon transitioned to appointed and elected positions with state, regional, and national membership organizations. Those volunteer opportunities also repaid me with added skills and achievements, which in turn tapped me for state government advisory panels, and invitations to federally funded national healthcare workshops.
Along with my volunteer path, I also trained and volunteered to address tough people situations that might benefit from the comfort, awareness and decision-making strategies to reduce or overcome personal harm. I became a night shift volunteer at a domestic violence shelter, with particular effort to support the youngsters torn away from their familiar surroundings, friends, pets, close relatives, and even toys. When I relocated cross-country, I became the first volunteer at a secure, private, and confidential group home for pre- and elementary school age boys placed there by the court. Later, my husband and I volunteered at Ronald McDonald House, providing warm support for families of seriously ill children who need a quiet break to refresh – or an overnight room— while staying close to their fragile child.
Now that my schedule is free from extensive career obligations, I contribute my energy, abilities and time for meaningful endeavors at other area nonprofit organizations. At 2-1-1 Orange County, my tasks have included standardizing and updating health and medical entries in the Information and Referral (I&R) database, reaching out to the 100 domestic violence programs to assure the database and the countywide coalition have accurate quarterly updates, and conducting a key leaders’ assessment to identify our region’s most relevant challenges and ways the newly merged 2-1-1 could harness its resources to solve them. As a OneOC team member, I have shared tactics for efficient membership renewal processes, been the point person to link trained volunteers willing to commit at the Board level with area nonprofits currently recruiting specific capabilities for their Boards of Directors, and optimizing the accuracy and consistency of OneOC’s customer data records.
Volunteering is a continuing core value to me. Besides assisting my community and those in vital need – the prime reasons I share my time – I realize that I, too, am better for the experience. Being a volunteer:
- provides purpose;
- keeps me learning and mentally stimulated;
- connects me with good people and strengthens ties to my community;
- maintains my thinking and relationship skills;
- brings pleasure and sparkle, even on gloomy days.
I encourage everyone to share time and talent: identify your goals and interests, and then enjoy the gift of giving!