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A time to give

As you age, do you find yourself being pulled in different directions? There is an interesting correlation in aging as the mind becomes sharper and the spirit settles. It seems that over time many of us have a strong desire to be visible leaders in our community with volunteer work. Becoming a volunteer is by no means cumbersome because opportunities exist for all ages and all businesses. For an added bonus, jumping into philanthropic work will bring the desired personal enjoyment along with gains for your business.

We know this to be the case because giving back is part of our core mission at Flex-Ability Concepts. We held a blood drive in August with another local company, and eight of our own employees donated blood. In 2019, our sister company, Progressive Stamping & Fabrication, invited Metro Tech students for Manufacturing Day. This event allowed students to observe various manufacturing processes with some hands-on experience. Similarly, Manufacturing Camp in 2018 brought in high school students for a day of learning, including the opportunity to make their own steel fighter jet model. Flex-Ability Concepts and Progressive Stamping & Fabrication employees built two new sheds at the Jesus House in Oklahoma City in 2017. Jesus House is a no-cost, faith-based nonprofit organization that provides food, clothing and shelter, as well as addiction services, to those in need. Consider your options to create a similar annual plan like us.

Set a plan

Survey your employees or co-workers to gage their interest in volunteering. Some might already be involved with a local charity or organization, giving you a place to start. If not, consider your construction talents and brainstorm a list of local organizations. National groups like the Rotary Club, Boys & Girls Club of America, and Habitat for Humanity also have regional branches that can be added to your list. While you are at it, contact your local government, schools, churches, and police/fire departments for ideas. Now more than ever these groups need help with their own programs. Their facilities also might be due for repair/maintenance work (which you could consider doing at a discount), or their employees simply might need some extra muscle to get projects done. For instance, as schools' e-learning plans morph into hybrid models that include in-person learning, schools might be looking for help to move furniture, set up room dividers or other tasks. Local police and fire departments most likely are starting their holiday fundraising and programs for families in need. Could you help them?

Once you have a plan, do not bite off more than you can chew. Set a reasonable goal for your first task, such as volunteering twice in your first year. After that, add on other opportunities as they arise and interest you. You do not have to say yes to everyone who asks for your help. But if they are asking, know you are doing something very right to enhance your reputation in your community.

Here is the added bonus for volunteering—a boost in team morale. The benefits of volunteering are so positive that some companies require employees to maintain a certain amount of volunteer hours per year. A good volunteer program also attracts employees who value such work and want to be employed by someone who is committed to their community. With a volunteer program, you have a higher employee retention rate for a team that wants to work together, as well as a built-in recruitment program.

As you volunteer, contact local media to cover your program or project. You also should share the news on your company's social media pages, like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Post before, during and after the project to draw as much attention as possible, and tag everyone involved, including other businesses. Doing so doesn't minimize the work; talking about it brings a sense of value and hopefully gets even more people involved in the next project. Make your crew visible by wearing hats and t-shirts with your company's logo.

According to the Corporation for National and Community Service, which runs AmeriCorps and Senior Corp, the volunteer rate was at 30.3% in 2018, up from 24.9% in 2016 (CNCS releases a volunteer report every two years). If you start now, you can be part of a rising number of volunteers for 2020 who have answered the call to get involved. We all know 2020 (and 2021) needs you. Your community needs you! 



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