Volunteering — Making it a Family Tradition

marathon volunteer

Volunteers are some of the most important people that I know. I’ve never met a volunteer that I didn’t respect or admire. I believe all volunteers are a gift regardless of the organization they support. I observe them and learn from them. I always enjoy hearing their stories. Some of the best volunteers I’ve ever worked with are right here within our own MPSCC.

This is a great time to take stock of our own volunteerism. We may love our volunteer commitments or, maybe it’s time for a volunteer make-over. Either way, we benefit from forging partnerships with organizations where there is a good fit.

I’ve been volunteering for many years. I was one of those students in college who helped with a number of causes.  From Big Brothers Big Sisters to the LAOOC Summer Olympic Games of 1984 right here in Los Angeles — I’ve always enjoyed helping wherever I could.

…we benefit from forging partnerships with
organizations where there is a good fit

My 2 years as a volunteer with the ’84 Olympics was a HUGE highlight for me. I assisted with the Olympic Arts Festival at UCLA and the Opening  and Closing Ceremonies at the Los Angeles Coliseum. It was an amazing experience I’ll never forget.

I joined MPISCC in 1984 and began my first volunteer participation with the annual Trade Show, working alongside Michele Doroshow, Tim McGill, Bill Doak and George Hutcheson, those were the days – before computers and fax machines! Then came 18 years of unforgettable committee, board and international MPI service, resulting in many great experiences, learnings and lifelong friendships with those volunteers.

Along with my three sons, I have supported many local organization by volunteering. I believe that with each cause we’ve made a
difference.

Local Events and Causes

Amgen Tour of California is an annual week-long professional cycling event that takes place here in California. Sponsored by Amgen, the event covers northern and southern California and brings together some of the greatest cycling athletes of our time. I’ve volunteered as a course marshal and staging host. The major event takes place each May “rain or shine”. The volunteers, spectators and event organizers are wonderful to work with. A great event!

Los Angeles Marathon What a GREAT event!  My sons and I have volunteered on this event for many years.  Every March, we help at the Los Angeles Convention Center and at Dodger Stadium. This year, we volunteered for three days at check-ins distributing runner bibs. We staffed the volunteer check-in center and helped on the morning of the marathon start at Dodger Stadium. What a fun volunteer experience and family tradition!

Los Angeles Times Festival of Books
Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. via Wikimedia

Los Angeles Times Festival of Books This
festival has become a family tradition. Formerly held at UCLA, it now hosted at USC. A major city festival, the event draws many thousands of attendees from all over and features hundreds of authors, books, entertainment stages, food tastings, panel presentations and much more. For the die-hard book enthusiast, it’s quite simply the place to be. This year, we volunteered in the author green room. We were assigned to authors, greeted each of them, escorted them to their stages or panel theatres and made sure they had everything they needed. For my youngest son, a Theatre and History major at CSUN, this was heaven. Parking was complimentary for the volunteers, everyone received a t-shirt, there were lots and lots of food options, and the festival was absolutely a Taste of Los Angeles!

Tournament of Roses Back in 2008, my sons and I began volunteering every holiday season with the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parade. Our neighbor’s daughter is an annual float captain with one of the big float companies. So, that was our wonderful “in”.  Each year we report for volunteer duty bright and early on December 26 at the warehouse directly across the street from the parking lot at the Rose Bowl. There, in that very cold space, we begin the process of taking a float shell and turning it into a beautiful work of art.  My sons are often the young men up high on the scaffolding — way up high! I’m usually on my back applying flax seed around the base of the float, applying asparagus fern or dark green moss to the lower sections to give the appearance of grass or earth. Paint and seeds cover our blue jeans, our hair is covered in glue-droppings and our hands and fingers are embedded with all the colorful trappings of our floral-based creations. We LOVE this volunteer opportunity, and the best part?  It’s waking up on January 1 in our warm home with a big home-made breakfast where we watch the floats go by in the comfort of our own home – complete with a burning log, dried out Christmas tree and the remnants of another holiday season coming to a close.

Union Rescue Mission Eight years ago, my family and I attended a volunteer orientation at the Union Rescue Mission. Located on San Pedro Street in the heart of downtown Los Angeles, this is one of the largest missions in California. The men, women and children the mission supports are largely homeless or in transition. For years now, we’ve volunteered monthly on Sundays where we prepare meals, serve, and help however we can. My sons and I have cracked thousands of eggs, made more sandwiches than you can ever imagine, sliced turkey breasts and stirred gallons of macaroni and cheese. When I see my sons standing in the meal line and handing a lunch or dinner plate to a single mom with her children, or to a homeless man who came in from the cold — I know we are in the right place. It’s been THE BEST family time together that we’ve ever shared together… the best.

Pick a cause and join in.

Many people and organizations need us. I always say, start out small. Attend an orientation. Sign up for a volunteer shift or two to see if you like it. You’ll make all the difference in the world and will feel pretty good about yourself in the process. Happy volunteering!

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