The Power of Volunteering

21 May

Here’s an article I wrote for FullBleed a few weeks back; after TEDxPotomac inspired so many people yesterday, I felt compelled to capture it in my personal journal here.

When I met Patrick Smith of Market Hardware last November at BarCamp DC, I hardly realized how inspired I’d become by just volunteering my free time to work on a project he envisioned. After all, I already very happily volunteer with FullBleed helping to solicit stories and edit articles for the ADCMW community. And, with other responsibilities on my plate outside my day job, I was a bit skeptical that I had more time to give.

But, as a fan of TED — which stands for Technology, Entertainment, and Design — I thought it could be fun to be part of a local version, which Patrick was beginning to plan, called TEDxPotomac. So, when he asked if anyone would be interested in volunteering, I stepped forward, and it’s proved to be such a fulfilling endeavor.

Now, after eight months and hundreds of hours of planning among passionate volunteers and supporters alike, we’re about to see the fruits of our labors distilled in a line-up of truly engaging presenters who embody our theme, “Beyond Politics: Innovation, Inspiration, and Insight.” With so many events in DC geared toward specific industries or issues, it’s refreshing to be an integral part of a more wide-spanning program whose talks range from environmental impact to electronic music, from architecture to the Encyclopedia of Life, and from cupcakes to Craigslist.

We’ve got something for everyone out there, and as a non-profit, it feels great to have all proceeds going just to host the event on May 20. People everywhere WANT to be a part of something like this, so the support for volunteers has been overwhelming. We sold out our first round of tickets in fewer than 24 hours, and now we’re working on the details to be sure folks can watch the presentations live via webcast.

One thing that TED has touted successfully since its inception is “The Power of Ideas,” which personally has made a substantial impact on me. I’ve been told — and have learned — that how we choose to spend our time is one of the most important decisions we make everyday. When you decide to volunteer your time helping other people DO or ACHIEVE something, you’re literally giving of yourself something so precious that it can’t be replaced. You’re saying, “Yep, this is something I’m willing to give because …” it makes an impact, or it feels good, or it fulfills some other goal you find joy in achieving. The idea behind the volunteering generates some personal satisfaction, and to be a part of that (when you find those opportunities) can be energizing. And, if you’re associated with good people, the impact is genuinely appreciated.

It’s a good thing we all have different ideas about what’s important to us individually, because that means collectively, we have the potential volunteering power to make a lot of positive impact. Which is just super cool.

If you want to learn more about volunteering opportunities in the DC area, check out some of the following resources:


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