Melanie Deardorff's volunteer stint at Queen Creek H.S. as a marketing judge

(Don’t) Stop Me Before I Volunteer Again

Have you ever seen artist Anne Taintor’s vintage graphic that says “Stop me before I volunteer again”? (If not, you can see it here.)

It’s always made me chuckle … probably because I can never stop myself from volunteering for something, no matter how busy I am.

I blame it on my parents. Back when I was a kid, I saw them regularly doing volunteer work — giving their talent, time and money to help assorted people in need. They showed me that it was not only important to do, but fulfilling and often fun.

First Volunteer Job: Candy Striper

Seeing how they lived their life inspired me to do the same, finding people and organizations in need and raising my hand to helping out. Thinking back, I believe my first volunteer stint was a hospital candy striper (remember those?). Another early memory: my mom drafting me to create posters and flyers for assorted needs at our church. (I’m a P.K. — a preacher’s kid, BTW.) This was the start of my writing and design work, no doubt, with my mom outsourcing content creation.😉

Since then, I’ve volunteered for and monetarily supported a variety of causes and concerns. I’ve probably forgotten many, but here are four that came quickly to mind:

  • Over the years, I’ve volunteered on several boards, like the Kansas City chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators. (Side note: Even though I live in AZ now, I still keep in touch with many of my KC/IABC friends.)
  • I managed a bra and feminine hygiene products drive for the international nonprofit called I Support the Girls. (That was a fun, worthwhile project, and you should have seen my living room packed floor to ceiling with bras of all colors, styles and sizes and sanitary pads and tampons galore!)
  • Back in my much younger days, I raised money by walking in a March of Dimes event. (I swear it was a marathon — my feet ached for days! — but I can’t remember how many miles we actually walked.)
  • I donated time and money to the Missouri chapter of Special Olympics. What an amazing organization!

Volunteering makes me feel good and helps me focus on others (though I do that pretty naturally, anyway). Sometimes it pays me back and returns the favor by helping raise my profile. This benefits me in several ways: I make friends with more people, often build my professional network, and sometimes, I get business from the volunteer work I’ve done. (Insert client testimonial here. 🙂)

Melanie Deardorff was a volunteer judging marketing students at Queen Creek High School

I had fun grilling interviewing high school students focused on marketing and communications.

I’m Volunteering in Arizona Now

After my husband and I moved from Kansas City to the Phoenix area, I looked for (and was easily able to find) volunteer opportunities in my new hometown. Pictured above is one of them; a high school needed volunteers to judge papers written by students who were interested in focus areas like agriculture, carpentry, marketing and technical theater. (You can guess which tract I volunteered for.) It was a fun morning interviewing high school juniors and seniors about their interests in marketing! I was able to expand my business network a bit, too, by talking with other judges.

From my initial AZ experience, I moved on to several others, including starting up a bunko group for my neighborhood (that counts as volunteering, right?); co-managing the neighborhood’s Facebook page (someone’s gotta do it); starting a business owners meet-up for my neighborhood; donating Valentine’s Day card to a neighbor who delivers them to nursing homes; annnnd I think that catches me up for now. (“Stop me before I volunteer again,” lol.)

I share these examples, not to pat myself on the back, but to show the variety of things that can be done (short-term stints, longer-term, nearby where I live, etc.).

Help Someone Today

If you’ve not spent time lately volunteering for a worthy cause, I hope this encourages you to take it up again. There’s so much need in the world, and it’s up to us (those who are willing and able) to give back.