Volunteers are the very lifeblood of the charitable sector, but not all volunteers are the same.
The secret to creating a dynamic, lasting relationship that works for both the volunteer and the charity can be summarized in a single word: passion.
Sometimes that passion is fueled by a charity’s programs and services. Other times, that passion ignites when a volunteer finds a unique, personal way to address the needs of the organization.
Endeared trustees of the Washington County Community Foundation, Dorothy Tecklenburg and Joe Piszczor, would likely agree that it is possible to find a perfect volunteer niche because both have done just that.
After moving back home to the United States from Beijing, China, Dorothy Tecklenburg was looking for new ways to utilize her time and reconnect with the community. During her days overseas, Dorothy was used to a full schedule. The busy mother taught Tai chi for 25 hours a week, devoted much time to renovating a Chinese orphanage, and wrote a column for the Observer Reporter about her experiences abroad.
Although mostly retired now, Dorothy has published two books, received numerous awards, including Emmys, and held many roles in movie and television production. She still freelances and works on projects that intrigue her.
“Writing has always been my gift, and in television I was a video storyteller,” she said. “That is what I did first and foremost. Storytelling is the main thing you do when you’re writing, and stories help people understand why they should give to a nonprofit.”
Utilizing her many talents, Dorothy has been helping the Community Foundation since 2008 with everything from story writing to video production to marketing campaigns.
“There’s one thing I really like to think about when I’m considering how you give back in life, and that’s the Tibetans. They have a way of life that says if you need help, and I give it to you, I am indebted to you because you have given me an opportunity to grow spiritually.”
Dorothy has spread her talents to others and created opportunity after opportunity to help people in need. At the same time, she gets to strengthen her creative skills and connect with new people. Her favorite phrase is “There is no them, only us.”
“Connection is the most important thing in the world, and helping nonprofits is a beautiful way to connect with your community. I have stuck with the Community Foundation because the meetings are professional, everything they ask me to do is valuable, and the Foundation’s leadership has always appreciated my skills.”
Joe Piszczor has similar thoughts on how he can make a difference in the community. Balancing his full-time work as a Certified Financial Planner along with his involvement as Investment Chair at the WCCF can seem like a lot – especially while making time for his wife, Kate, and dog, Buddy. However, Joe is always one to “say ‘yes’ to service” knowing he will also gain valuable experiences for growth.
Joe’s service journey began with his mother instilling the importance of helping others in him. Since then, he has developed a strong passion for serving his community. Joe enjoys volunteering in ways that suit his hometown’s needs as well as his personal interests.
“From a charity standpoint, I like to do communications, photography, or video when we need it . . . I’ve had this opportunity to serve and grow my communication skills outside of my professional arena because of all this great charity work I’ve gotten to do.”
Those service opportunities have enabled Joe to run a festival, perform historical reenacting, attend conferences, lead, produce, educate, and serve as a head media person for Rotary.
He remarked, “All of these little opportunities came from just saying ‘yes’ to service, and that’s a cool thing.”
Although Joe has a lot of fun with the media and communications activities, he is proud to pursue service opportunities that enable him to draw on his core professional skills, such as chairing the Foundation’s Investment Committee.
“We’re making a serious impact with millions of dollars going into this county . . .”
The WCCF truly appreciates the special skills and dedication that all their volunteers bring to the table, as well as all the countless other volunteers who ensure the success and survival of local nonprofits.
Charity volunteers may not be paid, but the work they do is priceless.