Corporations are continuing to lay off employees in record numbers, and all the while demanding more from those who remain. The pressure to work longer hours can conflict with the desire to volunteer your time and energy to your community. While I acknowledge that demands on our time are high, I firmly believe that giving something back to your community is beneficial to the community and yourself.
I personally contribute in three ways.
Booster Club Support
Both of my children are out of high school, but I have been an avid booster club supporter of the local Portland High School football and cheerleading programs for almost a decade. I’ve flipped burgers in concession stands, sorted smelly, messy bottles and cans on hot summer days, helped with car washes, and even engaged in a skirmish involving Title IX (that was the claim, it wasn't accurate) that would have resulted in the football and cheering programs from being ridiculously separated – something that no one involved with the programs wanted to see happen.
I remain supportive of both the football and cheerleading programs in part because my wife Lauri-Ann is the cheerleading coach at Portland High School. I'm spending less time than I used to, but I will participate when and where I am needed. Overall, being involved with high-school kids who are finding their way in the world can be both rewarding and fun. A good role model can really make a difference in a kid’s life at that age.
I write a monthly column for a small, Portland Neighbors newspaper that is distributed to approximately 13,000 residents in the North Deering area of Portland, Maine. I don’t get paid for this, but I write personal interest stories on people in the area, talking about them and their hobbies, businesses, or personal history.
The appeal to me is two-fold. I enjoy writing, and this is an excellent opportunity to exercise my writing muscle in ways that I don’t get to during my regular work. This also gets me out into my own community, meeting people that I would NEVER meet, except through my writing. And they receive the benefit of having their 15 minutes of glory with an article about them in a local paper. I’ve also been fortunate enough to have many of my articles published as the front-page lead, a gratifying experience for a writer and great for the people that I write about.
I am the representative from our company with a TechMaine organization, which is a resource and advocate for Maine technology sectors. I attend meetings with the organization, including a quarterly meeting attended by a cross-section of technology leaders throughout the state to share information and experiences to help each other succeed. I'm proud to say that our company won the “Company of the Year” award in 2004. My time spent with this organization is not something that I am paid for, but I contribute and remain supportive of efforts to keep technology alive and well in Maine.
Making Time Isn’t Always Easy
Do the pressures of my day job challenge my community involvement? You bet it does. However, I feel that everyone needs different experiences and perspectives, and supporting your community can provide you with those experiences. It also opens up the door to making new friends. There is a difference between living somewhere and being a part of the community, and it can be a rewarding, satisfying experience.