It’s 2017! And as the new year beams brightly ahead of us, I’m happily reflecting on the holidays and the many gifts shared with friends and family. Some were practical – socks, kitchen gadgets, boots. Other gifts were the “as seen on TV” wacky things. And still other gifts took time to create, and came straight from the heart.
No matter what we share, I think we’d all agree that there is great fun in giving, and it’s something worth doing not just during the holidays, but each and every day. What I’m really talking about, though, is giving of ourselves – our distinctive talents or skills, our wisdom, or time to simply be present for those who need us. These are the gifts that enrich the lives of others and strengthen the fabric of our communities.
Winston Churchill said it well – “we make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”
I continue to be in awe of JA volunteers who choose to give their time, energy and unique experiences to help young people learn and grow. From college students to retired professionals, our volunteers vary significantly in age, experience and background. But what they share in common is their commitment to and optimism for the future lives of our young people – the K-12 learners who are eagerly working to understand the world and their place in it, and who are looking for role models to help them chart their course.
During the 2015/16 school year, JA-Rocky Mountain volunteers contributed an amazing 1,023,200 hours of service to assist young people in our state. Based on Bureau of Labor Statistics calculations, this number equates to an estimated gift of $24,130,152 of added value to JA-Rocky Mountain and the school districts, educators and students we serve.
As you say “farewell” to the holidays and “hello” to a happy new year of opportunities, I challenge you to think about the unique gifts you have to share with others. Reflect a bit. Maybe jot them down. And then – have great fun sharing those gifts with others. It’s happy work.