I have a rather challenging time when I am asked to describe my ‘work’; usually because when asked to describe work we are asked to make a distinction between paid ‘work’ or unpaid ‘volunteer’ experience.I struggle with this as it seems to suggest that there is a different value assigned to each. I have volunteered for as long as I can remember and I have done this because I care. I care deeply about the causes that I volunteer with and I see volunteering as a part of my responsibilities and privileges as a human being. I find a beautiful synergy when I can share my skills and help others and in return know that I am making a difference, big or small, and gaining immense experience and relationships.
I currently serve as a Board member for a local non profit literacy organization and have sat as Vice and Co-President for other Executives. I have spent time making and serving dinner for homeless shelters and have stayed overnight to visit with clients and ensure everyone has a blanket and is comfortable. I have facilitated workshops to help clients understand their choices for post-secondary options in Alberta and have run parenting workshops for low income families. I have been ‘paid’ for all of this work, some through monetary means and some through incredible experience and the most heartfelt of thank you’s. Both valuable and both meaningful.
Imagine the opportunities that our organizations will have if more of our leaders can think generatively and identify talent. Imagine the opportunities if we develop the capacities in our leaders and help them think outside the typical ‘human resource’ box and simply identify needs in an organization and people who can fill them, paid and unpaid…talent.
We have much to learn from each other and that shared expertise can come in many forms. We can enable each other and help each other build the capacities we need so that we may serve our clients with integrity and with the best that we all have to offer.
“A pessimist, they say, sees a glass of water as being half empty; an optimist sees the same glass as half full. But a giving person sees a glass of water and starts looking for someone who might be thirsty.” – G. Donald Gale
This post was written by Eryn Kelly, Calgary Reads Vice-Chair.