I recently had the privilege of spending the lunch hour with some fellow Crossroads and Barkley partners at the local Ronald McDonald house. We prepared a menu of soup, salad and sandwiches for the residents who stay there while their child receives treatment at a local hospital.
During our tour of the facility, we learned how reliant the Ronald McDonald house is on volunteers like us. They budget only $1,000 per year on food for their guests. This was pretty shocking, considering the average family spends more than $3,000 on groceries (source: Myfamilyfinances.net).
I was reminded today that for little time and little investment, you can make a big impact on an organization and the people it serves. My advice to anyone looking to get involved:
- Find something that works for you. The cause and the opportunity must resonate with your passions. I have a sweet spot for causes that help children and families in need; plus I like to cook. Serving lunch at the Ronald McDonald house was a perfect fit. It’s okay if a volunteer opportunity doesn’t interest you. There will be others that do.
- Volunteering doesn’t need to be intimidating. If the thought of dedicating an entire weekend to helping an organization makes you run from volunteering all together, look for other opportunities. There are numerous organizations that will take just a few hours of your time. Serving lunch today took just three hours, but was the difference between Ronald McDonald House guests getting lunch or not.
- Take advantage of the opportunities in front of you. I’m lucky to work in a culture that embraces volunteerism. We each get two days to dedicate to volunteer work. For years, I’ve been worried about fulfilling volunteer responsibilities during the day for the fear it would conflict with a meeting or that work should take precedence. No more. If you have a company-sponsored volunteer outing or the ability to spend a few hours here and there during the day, do it. You’ll come back to your desk a better and more fulfilled employee.