my lucky dress
Today is a wonderful day. The sun is shining, and I am reflecting back on the positive energy that was in the room last night as we celebrated the 30th Anniversary of the Lord Selkirk Toastmasters club.
Attendance at the event was great, and it was terrific to acknowledge the achievements of our members and of our club. I was fortunate enough to have won the Lord Selkirk “Member of the Year” award. First time the club was giving out the award and it was an incredible honour to receive it. (The award was an acknowledgement for attendance at and participation in both local meetings and meetings and activities outside the club, educational achievements, holding an executive position, mentoring members, encouraging guests to join, etc.) In other words … being fully engaged in the Toastmasters spirit.
I can’t be anything but positive about TM. I have seen how it has changed the life of others. How it has helped me. And how, in its own way, it has and continues to make the world a better place.
It has been quite the month for me. Earlier in June I was awarded the “Volunteer of the Year” award by the Professional Writers Association of Canada for the Prairies & North region. That was an amazing honour as well. (See: www.pwac.ca for more about PWAC.)
Everyone who knows me (or who has been reading this blog for awhile) knows how I feel about volunteerism. It is in my blood. (See the March 8/09 and March 17/09 posts for more on that.)
And anyone who was at the PWAC banquet in Toronto on June 4th knows how that passion can turn to tears and make me blather. But I’m working on becoming a bit more reserved — and professional — in such situations. And at least I didn’t cry last night. (A good dose of herbal supplements for women helped.)
Was it coincidence or not? I was wearing the same dress on both evenings I rec’d the awards. From hereon in, it is designated my “lucky dress.” Who knows what will happen the next time I wear it?
The photo above was taken at the PWAC event. I am pictured with my wonderful friends and nominators, Marie Powell from SK on my left and Rusti Lehay from AB on my right.
Thanks for the amazing comment, Tracey. Your insights are very thought-provoking. And your efforts always make a difference. I hope others will chime in. And will step up to the challenge to volunteer for their cause(es) as you, I and our colleagues do. (And thanks for reminding me of the honour that Bob Bott has bestowed upon both of us!)
Congratulations on being recognized for all the great work you do making organizations function well, Doreen. (I notice you didn't mention that you also won the coveted "Bob's You're Uncle Award." Congratulations on that also.)
Like you, I'm also an active volunteer and I thought that I'd use this post to answer the question "Why volunteer?"
For myself, I have three responses to this question.
The first reason for volunteering–and I think this is the most obvious reason–is that I feel that I owe it to my community to volunteer. Our society functions to a very large extent on the willingness of people to give back to the community without being paid for their efforts. When I was growing up, I had the benefit of discovering an intense love of nature from a series of Girl Guide leaders and a real love of baseball and good fitness from many, many baseball coaches, including my father. I probably benefited from other volunteers too to use the library and at school, although I didn't recognize their efforts. My children also benefit from their soccer coaches and all the other people in their sports associations. They get more field trips and extra opportunities thanks to other parents who volunteer at their schools. My community is also cleaner thanks to local volunteers who spent a Saturday cleaning up litter. And these are just two tiny examples. In society, hospitals, libraries, retailers, political parties and lots of other institutions function with the help of volunteers. Paul Martin called the volunteer sector a "social economy" because it's so pervasive and necessary.
A second reason for volunteering is simply to try to get the world to change in some way that makes sense to you. The best way to find people who can help you make something positive happen is to volunteer for an organization that aims to accomplish your dreams. For me, I want changes in the world of media and copyright, so I'm an active member of PWAC. I want people around the world to be fed, so I have a foster child with World Vision. I want my children to have free and happy experiences at school, so I volunteer at their schools and in a Quebec-wide organization that promotes alternative schooling. What do you want? Maybe volunteering can make it happen.
And the last, but not least, reason for volunteering is all the friends and colleagues that you discover along the way. I've never heard anyone who is an active volunteer regret their decision to get involved, primarily because of the great people they met along the way. People like you, Doreen.