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Do we really make a difference when we volunteer?

How many of you have volunteered and ever wondered if you really are making a difference?  Let’s say you volunteer for the day to feed the homeless. You show up, with your super kind heart, and serve dozens with a smile on your face.  You may never see them again but for those moments you were there for them. When you walk away do you wonder what your impact was? If you really helped?

Last month I held my first job readiness workshop for Cupcake Girls, a nonprofit in Las Vegas that assists women with the resources they need after escaping sex trafficking and helps women out of the sex industry.  The class was three women...small but mighty! We went over resume writing, interview skills, networking, LinkedIn, how to deal with difficult questions (i.e. gaps in employment, criminal history) and overall confidence building.  At the end I offered my time, free-of-charge, to anyone who wanted me to help them one-on-one with any part of the process. One woman, “Lisa”, took me up on the offer. A week later we meet over a Zoom call.

Lisa had been kidnapped and trafficked for 17 years. She had job history prior to the trafficking but after, very little with a large gap in employment.  She was healing from the ordeal but also determined to make this second act in her life a good one. She was attending college with a goal to be a doctor, but in the meantime, she needed gainful employment.  The first hurdle was crafting a good resume and her belief that she was employable. So first things first, together we drafted a beautiful looking and well-written resume. It’s like getting a new hairdo. The resume looked great and it made her FEEL great about distributing it.  It boosted her confidence. And for the gap in employment? Let’s just say we came to a statement that worked for her and put that time period in a good light. After, I ask her to keep me posted and reach out if she needed any more help.

Usually, at this stage, I don’t hear back.  I just cross my fingers and hope it works out.

A month goes by and I get this email:

I got a couple of jobs! One at (big name company) and one at (another big name company).

Thank you so much for your help!

I’m not going to lie...I teared up when I read it.  Amazing, amazing, amazing.

I’ve spent years giving back through WHW, Working Wardrobes and other amazing nonprofits by teaching job readiness skills.  I never hear about my impact (we’ll except one story over ten years later but that’s another blog for another time). It felt good to know I made a difference in someone’s life.  It’s validation I do make a difference in many lives even if I don’t hear about it. And, I know Lisa will change lives herself on the path she’s on. She will inspire others. She will thrive.

Back to my original scenario.  Feeding the homeless. Showing up for a complete stranger to show them that they are not forgotten, that you are equal, that you SERVE them and that you care is a big deal.  Those you volunteer for, the nonprofit whose sole purpose is to serve others means you care and support their efforts to help the community around us. If you help one person feel worthy in life, or help those who help others, I promise you that will create a ripple effect and you will change lives for the better.

So I am reminding you today that YES, no matter how small or large your act of kindness is when volunteering it does help...it does change lives.

If you have a desire to help in the community but don’t know where to start, please shoot me an email or DM and let’s brainstorm on what causes you’d love to change lives in and create that ripple effect.

“Be the change you wish to see in the world.” M. Ghandi 

Yup, you’re doing just that.

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