Today's guest post is written by Mark Moravits, director of partnerships and global initiatives at generationOn—the youth service enterprise of Points of Light.
It makes sense that those who make a career out of helping people around the world to be better volunteers would themselves volunteer as often as possible. The staff of generationOn—the youth enterprise of Points of Light—is no exception. We need to keep our skills sharp, and if we’re working with tens of thousands of people to help them be the best and most impactful volunteers possible, doesn’t it make sense for us to grow our skills by doing?
On Saturday, Oct. 13, 6,000 New Yorkers spent their day volunteering in dozens of schools during the annual New York Cares Day. The generationOn team, most of whom are New York-based, joined New York City’s largest volunteer day, spending our day at MS 825 Isaac Newton Middle School for Math & Science in East Harlem.
Volunteering with the team you work with is exciting and beneficial for several reasons, the most evident being that you’re doing something for your community that not might otherwise get done if it weren’t for your time and talent. Our group of 17 painted a large math-themed mural designed by a local artist, catalogued hundreds of books and prepared more than 20 bulletin boards to be re-purposed and refreshed. It is unlikely that the work our team accomplished is something the staff of the school would be able to accomplish given their capacity, and it is likely that the projects we completed are ones that have been on the list for a while.
Furthermore, volunteering as a team catalyzes interaction and interpersonal connections that don’t usually occur within the workplace. You’re away from your phone, most likely not on email and hopefully not talking too much about work. You were in the same small town in Thailand as me? Where did you learn to paint so well? You speak French? When you’re having fun and not hunkered down working on a deadline, you learn things about your peers that you didn’t know. Of course, getting to know your team better is priceless.
Finally, volunteering as a team is a healthy stress reliever. Still irritated at your co-worker for not pulling his or her part on a funding proposal? Unable to sleep worrying about next week’s deadline? Some people might go for a massage, hit the treadmill or even pour a tall glass of wine. All perfectly fine options. But none of them combine stress reduction with doing something nice for someone else. When you’re spending your time and applying your talents to improve your community, watch as your worries take a back seat.
Whether you work in a nonprofit or for-profit capacity, take that step you’ve been wanting to take for some time. Get a team of your co-workers together and find a project after work on a weekday or something that allows you to use your skills on the weekend. Need resources and ideas? Find your local HandsOn Network Volunteer Action Center.
Mark Moravits is responsible for managing generationOn’s numerous national and global nonprofit partnerships, supporting the youth programs of 250 Action Centers of the HandsOn Network and managing generationOn’s ambitious global activation plan in five countries. Mark has helped build, launch and manage large-scale volunteer programs in 20 cities. He is a former third grade teacher and alumnus of Teach for America.