Day 16: Giving Back

Random Observation/Comment #303: Time is the most precious thing we have. I find it better to donate this than money. At least with time, I’ve created experiences that will last me a lifetime (or as long as I can remember them).

giving back

One of the advantages of working for a large corporation is the number of networks and organizations that host philanthropy events. If I wanted to, I could probably go to an event 4 days a week and meet new people / give back to a community.  In fact, when I was all gung-ho about being social and expanding my network, this took up most of my nights.  I used iClick event photography as my ticket to get invited to the events and then the camera as a conversation starter.  Regardless of the means, I was able to meet so many people that simply loved helping (and maybe free drinks).

The Challenge:
Volunteer my skills to a few philanthropy organizations at Credit Suisse.

The Reason:
I have already volunteered at most of these places, but I have never taken the time to write about them and reflect on how they’ve helped others in the past 3 years. I don’t think I made a big impact as a single person, yet I’m pretty sure I made a few people smile so I consider it a success.

The Result:

  • Junior Achievements – This organization teaches financial literacy to elementary school kids where the volunteers are teachers of some of the preset modules.  I taught 3 full days of curricula at a public school in Harlem.  We also had a day where we did a scavenger hunt in Riverside Park.  Teaching these courses made me realize that I absolutely love teaching and I will eventually be a teacher when I retire (or maybe before that).  It helped with my presentation skills just standing there in front of little kids explaining how towns and banks work while the 1st grade teacher just sat in the back grading papers and letting me run with it.
  • FIRST Robotics – With my robotics background, this non-profit was right up my alley. High school students would build robots in their competitions and do a really impressive job.  I worked with the FE Maidens (Iron Maidens) last year and volunteered on the day of the event at the Javitz Center.  Although I was not allowed to share my algorithms with them, it was nice seeing brilliant minds work hard and smile in their accomplishments
  • Prep for Prep – This organization helps minority high school students prepare for interviews and the real world planning ahead.  These students become lean mean interviewing machines with real guidance and opportunities to demonstrate leadership.  I have been one of their mentors and volunteer interviewers, and I must admit that some of these high school students are better interviewers than some professional candidates.  I think the skills their being taught are truly transferable and will lead many students to success.
  • NY Cares creativity kits – During the holiday season, NY Cares builds these Creativity Kits for homeless children over the December break.  We make holiday cards and put together sets of art supplies in hopes that they will spend the holiday with a small gift that can spark some artistic passion.  I have loved making the cards the past 3 years and seeing others show their creativity.

The Conclusion:
These non-profit organizations are the ones that are making differences to those less fortunate and trying to shape the future by focusing on the creativity and education of our youth.  No matter how much work I do to write requirement documents or draw architecture diagrams for applications, it will not add up to the impact of donating my time to seeing results and giving real advice to kids that just need guidance and love.

After reviewing all the volunteer programs out there, I can definitely see myself taking a pay cut and working for a better cause.  It may not be now, but somewhere down the road, this is an underlying desire.  I hope others do the same to give back where they can.

~See Lemons Volunteer