Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Why Volunteer?

Volunteer - a person who voluntarily offers himself or herself for a service or undertaking. A person who performs a service willingly and without pay.

Why would anyone volunteer for anything if they are not going to be paid? This is a question I often ask myself and am often asked by members of different groups.

I think I have always volunteered for things and groups. Perhaps it was my mother’s lead of working with a group called Caritas when I was a child. Or maybe it was having all those cookies arrive at our house because she was the Cookie Chair when we were in Girl Scouts.

Then when my own children were young, there was always Girl Scouts, Baseball Leagues, Cub Scouts, Church, PTO, and all those other groups that needed a chair person, a hotdog seller or just an extra pair of hands that were free.

But the real reason I volunteered was to make friends and to better understand the workings of whatever group I was with.

Then there is ISA.

When I first joined ISA, I would go to my chapter meetings and just listen and get to know the players. The first conference I went to in Boston, I only knew one person there before I arrived. I didn’t know there would be committee meetings so I didn’t go to them – I went shopping (after all I had three pre-teens at home and I was free to do what I wanted for three whole days). But through that first conference I met members and started to network with them. I still know exactly who the first person I met at that ISA conference in Boston was and I still have her as a colleague and friend to this very day.

As time passed, the local chapter asked me to do a little of this and a little of that. I started to get involved and began to feel a real part of the group. A conference or two later, I decided to attend the ARC Committee meeting and I was somehow appointed their Vice-Chair. The exact details of how this happened are a bit hazy to me but I do remember that the Chair told me my job was to make sure that the needs of the committee were fulfilled. I already had a lot of leg work that needed to be done for the Chicago Conference that I had volunteered for as well as everything in my personal life. They were certainly asking a lot of me and I just wasn’t sure I had the time. That's when the "What was I thinking getting involved with this group!" thoughts began to run through my mind. Despite my reservations, I buckled down and made the time. It was a lot of work, but led to the tremendous side benefit of  getting to meet and getting to know a lot of local experts that I might not have if I hadn't been so involved. Those connections have proven incredibly useful as I have worked with a number of those individuals throughout the years for help in my appraisal business.

During that particular conference – I volunteered to be the guide for the ARC Pre-Conference Tours – I had set up the venues, had been raised in the city and area all my life – and I have never been one to keep my mouth shut so it was a natural fit. That little bit of volunteerism was where one of the CORE instructors saw me in action and said – “you should be an instructor, get your CAPP and we can talk about it” I took that advice and the rest, as they say, is history.

Through my volunteering I have met and worked with some fabulous people. I have been able to see some of my vision for ISA come to fruition. And through it all I have learned so much about the profession I live and work with on an everyday basis.

Volunteering can start with small steps , a single piece of a project, a leader of a task force, a local chapter officer, a chairman of a committee, a member of the BOD – all it takes is your time and talents, you will be surprised how much you will get in return for your effort. Certainly more than money can buy!

~Judy Martin

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