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The Value of Volunteering

by Anne Buckley
July 1, 2017

Have you ever wondered about volunteering but are too afraid to dip your toe in the water? Maybe you feel like you don’t know enough about the school yet? You’re new to the community and don’t feel like you have the information yet? Feel like you couldn’t do a good enough job? Feel stretched enough already but never have anything meaningful to show for your efforts at the end of the day? All of these were me two years ago when I moved with my family from England to Holliston. I was swimming in information, none of which made sense and all of which was daunting, over-whelming and hard to navigate. I was completely out of my comfort zone and felt like a fraud for feeling ragged at the end of a long day of researching the next park to take my daughters to!

After a year of muddling through and at least being able to find my way to school, supermarkets and a couple of restaurants without turning on the GPS, I decided to dip my toe in, and volunteered to help with the PTO. As proud parents say about their little siblings as they send them off into the big wide world, it was the making of me. While this article is written from my personal experiences, I hope that it highlights how volunteering for even the smallest thing can make a huge difference – not only to the organization you’re helping, but also to your own self-esteem and confidence, and your relationship with your child.
 
I started out by offering my time to the school through library sessions, assisting with classroom activities and ad-hoc projects, before branching out to the PTO. I love to write, and so thought I’d try my hand at the town-wide PTO newsletter. I have a background in PR and communications, but still felt like I had a lot to learn at the Holliston level. This forced my hand. I suddenly became involved in what was going on in and around our schools, and not just Elementary where my two daughters are currently, but across the school platform. It was enlightening. I learned even more about the programs on offer – putting context behind Destination Imagination, Culture Connection and others that I’d heard banded about but had been too afraid to ask.
 
With a toe in and enjoying it, I decided to immerse myself and volunteered to work-shadow our Parent Ed programs chairperson who was planning to ‘retire’ from her 5-year tenure. Events was another passion of mine, having hosted press and analysts for many years, how difficult could it be to switch to hosting events for parents?! I tentatively worked alongside Lynne Rahim, watching and learning how she navigated the Parent Ed landscape and quickly became more committed than I ever imagined. This was important. It was useful. And it was interesting!
 
I think I’ve got the volunteering ‘bug’ now. I find myself putting my name forward for sign-up genius requests for activities that do not directly affect me or my children, but affect someone’s children in the community. I appreciate that many parents work, and are unable to commit to a long-term position, but would really urge everyone to consider the ad-hoc volunteer opportunities that come your way. I have found such a sense of satisfaction and personal achievement through offering my time – both on an as-needed basis and a longer-term commitment.
 
In my opinion, the benefits I have enjoyed are worth taking a couple of hours off work for if your schedule allows for it; I frequently volunteer my husband (!!) and he absolutely loves the change of pace from his business life. I really feel part of my child’s education through co-operation with the school. I love the looks on the children’s faces as they race around a school field trip to the zoo, or make their own candles at the 18th Century Days, but equally satisfying is seeing the progress as children check out more advanced books from the school library and engage in telling you why they loved a certain plot, or spending an hour planting peas in the school garden.
 

I could go on, but I’m conscious of your precious time. I’ll close with my honest belief that you will certainly get (at least) as much out of volunteering as your children will by having you attend some of their school events. We know there are lots of requests for your time, but please consider a volunteer role with a different perspective. It’s not something on the list of things to do, but something that can be extremely rewarding and create a lasting memory.

If you would like to know more about the Holliston PTO, you can browse our website at www.hollistonpto.org or contact the PTO board at hollistonpto@gmail.com. All contributions of time and effort are very much appreciated and no offer is too small. Thank you for your continued support.

 

 

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Comments (1)

Anne--we are so happy to have you! I love this piece-thanks for sharing your experience! Stacey

- Stacey Raffi | 7/1/17 8:42 AM

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