Volunteer? You Bet

Toddi Gutner

My colleagues and fellow bloggers, Anne Tergesen and Amy Dunkin, have both recently written about volunteering and the working parent. Their comments inspired me to think about how I choose to volunteer my time and why I do it.

I realize that I choose to volunteer because I want to give back to my community, and set an example for my children to see and understand that we all have a responsibility to help people and organizations outside our day-to-day lives. So it’s with that motive in mind that I have chosen my volunteer activities rather than seek projects that bring me face-to-face with my children.

I do, however, make sure my kids benefit from my volunteering and that the time I invest in these activities isn’t at their expense. For example, I serve as a board member to the Chappaqua Summer Scholarship Program (CSSP), a scholarship program that brings high school students from the Bronx to summer school in my Westchester community of Chappaqua. These students stay in the homes of families in our town and attend our highly-regarded high school for six weeks each summer for three years. Many of these students go on to attend Ivy League schools and attribute their success to CSSP. As a board member, I have handled the public relations and marketing. My efforts are mostly be done with a quick phone call between my work calls, or brief emails and errands. I typically partake in a couple of weekend community events where my children sit with me at a table to promote the program. And finally, we host high school students every summer.

What I’ve tried to do is chose projects that allow my children participate with me as much as they can so that they’re growing in their understanding of volunteerism. I hope that when I find meaning in volunteering, they will too.

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