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May 23

Volunteers: An Important Part of Missouri Communities

by Mike Ferguson

(St. Charles, MO) – ROI. In business terms, that means “Return On Investment” or, in everyday terms, the profit you get back from spending something.

Money isn’t the only thing that can be spent and both corporate and nonprofit organizations in Missouri hope you’ll spend a little more this year. Specifically, they encourage us all to spend more time and effort in volunteering.

On “Missouri Viewpoints”, AT&T Missouri* President John Sondag explains why his company – and many others – organize volunteer efforts in the workplace.

MWSnap181“It’s really two-fold for us. It is employee involvement and morale and the other thing is, it’s giving back and trying to help our community. Because if the community does well, all businesses will do well.”

Sondag says the role of business in local communities has changed an now includes an expectation of giving to charitable and community causes in addition to selling products and services. He’s fine with that and calls volunteering part of his company’s “corporate DNA”.

Last year, AT&T employees donated over 290,000 hours of volunteer work in communities across the nation.

That may be good public relations and good business but there’s also something in it for the volunteer, even if you aren’t working right now.

With the national and state economy still struggling in places, volunteering can be a way to keep your resume fresh, keep skills sharp and even explore new career options. There’s no shortage of nonprofits that need volunteers and the work they need done ranges from warehouse stocking, cleaning and other blue-collar type of work to white-collar tasks including data entry, office management, computer programming and social media.

According to Sondag, working even without pay through volunteering is a good way for the unemployed to improve their chances of landing the job they really want.

“I would encourage them to get involved with a charitable organization so when they’re out looking they are not only honing their skills by working, they are also expanding who they know and that expands the opportunity to meet someone who can hire them.”

The United Way’s Katelind Rohde agrees and points out that volunteering isn’t just a way to keep a resume fresh, it can also be a way to get one started for young people who are new to the workforce.

MWSnap182“If you’re looking to build a new skill or if you’re just wanting to see what’s out there, maybe you’re young and in high school and you’re trying to explore what are the different careers out there, you go and volunteer and get a taste for what’s out there.”

Of course, volunteering doesn’t have to be about your personal benefit, although both Sondag and Rohde say there is nothing wrong about getting something back in terms of experience and connections. The bottom line is that you help the bottom line of nonprofit, charitable efforts when you volunteer.

That typically means you help someone’s life improve through kindness.

Rohde works in one of the United Way’s Volunteer Centers and believes the most effective way to donate your time is to get involved where you have an interest already.

“Think about what [you’re] passionate about, so whether that’s working with children or seniors, you can find that and find your passion.”

Hundreds of nonprofit organizations across the state need volunteers. The right fit for those needs could be a high school student who wants something to do over the summer (and get a good letter of recommendation for a future job application), a church group looking for a way to minister to others or a retiree who isn’t done using the skills they have sharpened over their career.

On the web:

AT&T: www.ATT.com

United Way’s Volunteer Website: www.MOVolunteer.org

* AT&T Missouri is a sponsor of “Missouri Viewpoints”

Permanent link to this article: http://missouriviewpoints.com/volunteers-an-important-part-of-missouri-communities/