Mandatory Fun

When I was on my first ship, we’d volunteer to do all kinds of stuff in the local area, from cleaning up parks to manning events at a local elementary school. I found the same sort of mission-oriented outlook when I became a member of James Ballentine VFW Post 246. One of the primary purposes of the VFW is to offer members the opportunity to volunteer in their communities and find that same sense of service they found in uniform. To that end, we engage in many volunteer activities to support Minnesota’s veteran community and their families. It remains the primary metric VFW leadership uses to evaluate our worth to the organization.

One of the things I love most about my new job is a chance to volunteer on a consistent and ongoing basis for a wide variety of Twin Cities nonprofits. One of the many reasons this has been the best career move I’ve made since joining the US Navy. One of RSM’s most active core values is Stewardship. We take it very seriously, dedicating a significant amount of resources and headspace toward that end as a firm. We also have an Employee Networking Group (ENG) dedicated to veterans and their advocates. The firm has an ENG for any community you could imagine. We’d probably start a new one if you came up with one we hadn’t already considered. All of these groups also dedicate a healthy portion of their efforts to promote volunteer activities within their communities. Stewardship is a value that takes dedication to the mission and loads of sweat. It takes deliberate, focused purpose to make a difference.

Which brings me back to core values. The thing most missing in this world today is a solid set of core values about what it means to be human and what each of us are willing to do as individuals to promote the experiment we’re all engaged in as a human collective. The simple fact remains that “The Powers That Be” always use division of the masses to maintain their dysfunctional view of what “reality” must be at any given time. Our advanced technology doesn’t make The Prince any less relevant to our current problems. They’ve been playing this game on We The People of Earth for thousands of years. Our only way out is each other. Embracing our similarities rather than focusing on our differences in the interest of designing a new tomorrow that is awesome for everyone.

I’m dipping a toe into the volunteering pool right now. There is so much I could be doing. So much more I plan on doing. As my son gets older, I will encourage him in to join various organizations giving back to the community until he finds something that really fills him with motivated passion. I got started late to be sure, but I want O to consider volunteering for causes bigger than himself as one of his primary core values. I suspect it won’t take much encouragement, actually. Generation Z is already proving itself to be far more civic and socially minded than any of the current generations. Something about existential threats causes humans to focus far more on their similarities than their differences.

If you’ve never volunteered because you don’t think you have the time or anything to offer, I would challenge you to look at it again. It is amazing how much even a tiny bit of effort can do for someone who has nothing. The only qualification is having a heart. Caring to make a difference even when you’re positive it will never be enough. There’s nothing wrong with the world today that can’t be healed through the collective action of millions. The ripple effects are equally impressive. Friends and family see you digging into help and many will be inspired to do the same for the causes they care about most. Strength in numbers made real. Turn to.