Our local paper, the Chamberlain-Oacoma Sun, recently did a feature story on volunteering and local volunteers. I was flattered to be interviewed for the story along with my friend, Susie Geiseler, who is a wonderful servant of our community.
Because volunteering is something that I am passionate about, I thought I would share that interview and the article from the paper. Because my space here is not limited, I have added some additional commentary that was not part of the interview. Those comments are italicized below.
Sun: What are some of the ways you volunteer?
HDK: I coach, teach religious education, serve as advisor for Explorers (junior high boys service club), serve on several local, state and national boards and various other things around our community and in church.
Sun: How or where can people volunteer in Chamberlain?
HDK: There are many organizations that are always looking for volunteers. Schools, churches, hospitals and retirement homes are good places to start. It depends somewhat on what you would like to do. Find someone who is volunteering in an area that you are interested in and ask them how you can get involved.
Sun: How did you get started or find information about how to volunteer?
HDK: My parents were both good examples to me. Both volunteered in the Chamberlain area and on statewide boards and projects.
My father was civic minded. He started the Chamberlain Chamber of Commerce in 1963. Dad realized the importance of a small community working together. He served on the city commission for nine years (anyone who has done that in a small community will recognize was a service that is!). He organized the school's athletic banquet for many years and taught religious education at St. James Catholic Church.
My mother belonged to a local ladies service club, taught religious education at St. James and served on the South Dakota Easter Seal Board of Directors. She volunteered in many other ways at our church.
Both of them showed me, by example, how to serve others long before the Jesuits ever got a hold of me.
In high school, they encouraged me to volunteer and to look for ways to serve others. I carried that interest in serving on to college. I went to school at Creighton University where volunteering was encouraged by the Jesuits. I had many opportunities at college to volunteer - through the school, the church and my fraternity.
After college, I really felt a need to serve others. I remember I started coaching a tee ball team in Omaha. I have some priceless stories from that time. That tested my patience but I really enjoyed it.
I really enjoyed serving as a Big Brother in Des Moines as well. I have some great experiences and stories from that period as well.
I naively thought that I would be teaching baseball when I coached tee ball. No, not so much. But I learned so much from those kids. Just because I showed them what to do or how to dot did not mean that they learned. That was a valuable lesson for me as I have continued to coach young people.
My Big Brother experience in Des Moines was great. I am reminded of the first hockey game I ever went to. That will be material for a later post!
Sun: Do you think volunteering is important?
HDK: Yes, I think it is very important.
HDK: There is an element of "giving back" that I think is very important. At some point, everyone has been on the receiving end of volunteerism - especially if you live in a smaller community like ours.
Additionally, I think anyone who volunteers can tell you that there is some self satisfaction that goes with serving others.
Sun: You seem to volunteer quite often, what drives you to do this?
HDK: Much of my volunteer work is with young people. I really enjoy coaching and teaching young people for what I would guess are the same reasons our professional teachers do. It is rewarding to watch them learn and grow as a person.
I think any volunteer is at least partially motivated to do so by a desire to "give back" to either a community, a cause, an industry, etc.
I believe that giving one's time is perhaps the most valuable thing anyone can give. We all have just 24 hours in every day and so that time becomes a very precious commodity.
Sun: How does it make you feel?
HDK: I guess it makes me feel pretty good. I can tell you that I have received far more than I could ever give in almost every situation in which I volunteered. So I feel a certain gratitude for the opportunities as well.
I feel fortunate to have all the wonderful relationships that I have made by volunteering.
Sun: Any tips? Should people tie volunteering to things they already like to do? For instance, say you are a talented cook, singer, or something like that, could volunteering be more fun if it plays on strengths? Or is trying something new equally fun?
HDK: Volunteering is a very personal thing. I encourage people to find something they enjoy and stick with it. Don't limit yourself though. If you have the time, volunteer more.
Sun: Anything else you'd like to add?
HDK: A community like Chamberlain-Oacoma thrives on volunteers. There are so many programs that exists only because of volunteers. Sometimes we forget that people are volunteering for things that we take for granted. Tell them thanks and that you appreciate what they do. If they didn't volunteer, we probably wouldn't have that program.
Unless you live in a small community, you don't realize how many great events and activities depend on volunteers. Volunteers are important in every community but they are the life blood of small communities!
We make a living by what we do, but we make a life by what we give. —Winston Churchill