Why volunteer?

I had someone ask me why I volunteer? My initial reaction was “because I can”. I went on further to explain that I’m fortunate to have a job that allows me to do so. The next question I received was “well, how does that help Holiday Lanes?”. I often have to explain how or why I am at so many events around town. My job as marketing director for Holiday Lanes allows for me to be involved in the community in a way that also highlights the programs and services that we offer. I respect and understand the need for salespeople and yet I’ve found it difficult to follow the cold-calling techniques that often come with jobs in sales and marketing. I find that attending events, serving on committees, and volunteering provides a way for people get to know me and what I do without having to work the hard sell edge.

readingSo how does it help Holiday Lanes? It gives us the opportunity to invest in the community. We learn about other organizations and it allows us to be a resource for those people related to the organizations.

Today, I found out that sometimes, it really has nothing to do with my job. I started as a Step Forward literacy volunteer, reading to 3rd graders. I was kind of nervous. I’ve never done this before and wasn’t sure how well I’d be around third graders. When I walked into Ms. Collins third grade class at E.B. Williams Stoner Hill Lab Elementary school, I  was actually sweating. (Ok, so humidity was like 300%, but still!) Ms. Collins introduced me to the class and each student had an opportunity to share their name with me. There were five other Williams’ in the class, and so we had something in common. I was assigned six students as my breakout group. We all gathered together in the miniature burgundy chairs and began the task of reading “Jennie and the Wolf”. I asked each student to read a paragraph to me and then asked if I could read a paragraph. They excitedly allowed me to do so. We then all read in unison. (Kinda cool!) We talked about the vocabulary words (discovery and inspired) and the moral of the story (Help others and they will help you). We compared ourselves to Jennie and the Wolf. It was such a fabulous day for me. Those kiddos really snagged me in way I hadn’t expected. I get to read to them twice a week for 30 minutes and what at first seemed like something I might dread, I can now see is going to help me be better at the rest of my work week.

This has nothing really to do with my job, but in another way, it has everything to do with my job. Sometimes I find that I don’t feel like I’m making a contribution. I get caught up in emails, quotes, booking events, and yes, volunteering. Volunteering with thirStep Forwardd graders is way different than volunteering on a committee. I think this is going to give me energy and make me better at my job.

I would encourage you to consider reading to third graders. From what I have learned, third grade is that “make or break” time in a child’s life where being able to read is an indicator of whether they will graduate from high school. This is the very basic description. You will learn more when you sign up. There is a need for volunteers in both Caddo and Bossier Parishes. If you would like more information about Step Forward please contact Laura Alderman at The Community Foundation at 318-221-0582. As I walked out of the classroom from my volunteer time, one of the young men in the class yelled out “We had fun Ms. Robin!”. That made it all worth it!

Step Forward:

That Just Happened!!
Robin Williams
Marketing Maven, Holiday Lanes

 

 

There is Hope in Collaboration

IMG_1161It is so easy to get caught up in our worries and feel like nothing is good in life. I’ve been feeling a bit down lately and it can be consuming. Today I was reminded that while my worries may be valid, there is always someone out there who has things a little (and a lot) worse. My friend, Candace invited me to tour HOPE for the Homeless, a.k.a. HOPE Connections Drop-In-Center, which is a collaboration of organizations and individuals dedicated to ending homelessness in Northwest Louisiana. Candace is a member of the board for the Volunteers of America North Louisiana (VOA) and she wanted to share how they are partnering with other agencies to provide hope in our community.

The Vision of HOPE for the Homeless is that no individual or family has to experience homelessness in Northwest Louisiana.

IMG_1155I really had no idea what to expect. What I found was so touching. The Drop-In-Center is truly a place of collaboration from over 60 agencies that work together to provide a safe resting place and resource center for the homeless.

IMG_1154IMG_1158IMG_1162What I understand about the challenges of being homeless and trying to obtain help is that navigating the system can be daunting, partly due to the travel distance between agencies. This Center provides shower facilities, laundry facilities, telephones, computers, mail receipt, medical services, and job opportunities. It is run by certified Peer Support Specialists that steer clients towards services that will help them obtain and maintain permanent housing.

IMG_1166What touched me most was hearing from Tony. Tony is a homeless veteran who landed in Shreveport after some set-backs in life. Tony, was resistant to accepting help because he has a dog, Obi Wan Kenobi (a three-legged sweetie). Tony had been offered help from other agencies, but with stipulations that he had to get rid of Obi. This was not an idea open for discussion with Tony. As an animal lover, I understand not wanting to give up the companionship. When the case worker from HOPE for the Homeless assured Tony that they would find a way to help them both and then followed through on that assurance, a trust relationship was formed. Because of the collaborations of several agencies, hope was given to Tony in a way that has allowed for a transition into a safer living situation. It has also given Tony a way to contribute back to the community.

HOPE Connections is located at 2350 Levy Street in Shreveport, LA. I hope you will consider taking a tour of this facility, or one of other VOA tours available. The collaborative efforts being made in our community are outstanding. Upcoming tours dates are as follows:

  • Sept 2, 2015 – 11 am – Ballington Center at South Pointe Place – 1133 South Pointe Parkway, Shreveport
  • Sept 2, 2015 – 4 pm – Highland Center – 520 Olive Street, Shreveport
  • Oct 7, 2015 – 11 am – Lighthouse Bossier – 2101 Scott St, Bossier City
  • Nov 4, 2015 – 11 am – Veterans Facility – 453 Jordan St., Shreveport
  • Dec 2, 2015 – 11 am – Lighthouse – 802 Travis St, Shreveport

Want more information about Hope for the Homeless or VOA?

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There is hope in collaboration! I’m proud to live in an area where there are people that are working to improve the lives of everyone in the community.

That Just Happened!!
Robin Williams
Marketing Maven, Holiday Lanes

* Source: http://nwlahope.org/ and site visit