What volunteer groups do you contribute to?
Some of the groups I work with are the Talkin’ Monkeys Project, OneLightBulb.org, F.I.S.H. Preserve, the Florida Bat Conservancy, and Pooches for the Planet. I’ve done most of my work with the Tampa Bay & Sarasota Bay Estuary Programs whose mission is to protect the bay and our estuaries as well as Talkin’ Monkeys Project, a project that provides a healthy, safe, lifelong home for apes and monkeys taken from private homes or released from medical labs.
What type of volunteer activities have you done with these groups, and for how long?
I held group facilitations, led workshops, participated in strategic planning, and helped run and promote events.
From my experiences in the non-profit world, I became used to doing a lot with a little. This helped me when I was volunteering to reach out to community and resources to get more.
Why did you get involved? What motivates you to volunteer with this group?
I have always done things for the environment and animals and waterways—whether it’s the ocean or bays. It’s always been a part of my life. Then, in 2002, I began working for an environmental consulting company, and an opportunity came up to work on community projects for the local Keep America beautiful affiliate.
I already had a business background from college, and experience working with the environment. I put it all together in the context of community, and started Simply Green Solutions, focusing on environmental education.
I began to learn what community members’ needs were, and used that to match them up with outreach opportunities. My goal was to combine my love and passion for the environment with reaching out to people, creating positive, proactive partnerships.
Now I’m on the Citizens Advisory Committee of Sarasota Bay Estuary Program, the US Green Building Council, and the Manatee Chamber of Commerce Green Initiatives and Resources Committees.
Honestly, one thing just led to the next!
Why does volunteering excite you? What do you get out of volunteering?
Volunteerism was always ingrained in me – I was raised to give back to the community, whether it was through church, musical groups, stewardship projects and environmental projects, etc.
Now, I really like bringing the community together and encouraging them to be leaders by “doing the things they would like others to do.” I feel really good getting the educational message across and promoting environmental welfare and conservation. Get the educational message across. It’s not always perfect, but the environmental movement is trying to move in positive direction and I’m glad to be a part of it.
What would you say to other people who are thinking about volunteering with this group?
Think about what you enjoy. What makes you smile? Do you like being indoors or outdoors? Do you enjoy working with people or nature? What Color is your Parachute? Also, make sure you feel comfortable, especially if it’s your first time volunteering. Volunteer for something and in a field that makes you comfortable and feel good.
Remember—anything you do is helpful.
What would you say to people who are thinking about volunteering in general?
Even if you can only do a little, it multiplies! Volunteerism is the way we’re going to make our society better. The more we can use volunteerism to fill needs, the better.
Also, it improves a person’s feelings of self worth. When I see friends who are unhappy, I encourage them to find their passion in fulfilling ways like volunteering. You, in turn, get much more back.