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The Value of Volunteerism By Geovanny Ragsdale

I fondly recall one of my earliest volunteer experiences. At just eight years old and a member of the Pathfinders Club, we visited an assisted living facility to sing and deliver flowers to its residents. This eye-opening event revealed the isolation faced by seniors without regular family visits and how our presence could ignite immense joy. Guided by mentors who instilled the values of giving time, talent, and treasure, I have integrated this ethos into my very being. Today, as an adult, giving back is intrinsic, so much so that I’ve committed my career to the nonprofit sector, embodying my life’s mission: “Create Value and Make a Difference.”

In my role as CEO of Boys & Girls Club of the West Valley, I extend heartfelt gratitude to the remarkable volunteers who unite with us to champion our mission: “to inspire and enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible adults.”

Consider Adrienne Kentor, one of our longtime and most passionate volunteers, whose dedication to the College Bound program spans over a decade. As an integral part of our Future Ready initiatives, she helps students navigate college applications and supports them as they aim for advanced degrees. An embodiment of the “ALL IN” volunteer spirit, she goes above and beyond. Then there’s Meghan Bauhs, a Reader Volunteer within our Cooper Literacy Program. Regularly visiting Club sites, they read with elementary kids, kindling the joy of reading and ensuring no child falls behind due to literacy shortcomings. Whether reading to them or listening to their stories, they make a lasting impact. Lauri J. Reimer, a music instructor from the Get Together Foundation, opens doors for children to explore their passion for music every week through our partnership. Lauri unlocks new avenues of interest for them.

Volunteering’s true magic is that we anticipate giving to others, but it culminates in a two-way exchange that enriches all involved. According to Habitat for Humanity, “Volunteering yields enhanced well-being, extended lifespans, and reduced stress. The ripple effect is felt not just by volunteers, but by the communities they serve.”

Are you ready to embrace volunteerism? Here are key considerations when choosing who, how, when, and where to contribute your time, talent, and resources as you embody your life’s purpose.

1. Who? Reflect on your affinity. Do you find resonance in aiding kids, teenagers, young adults, the homeless, or perhaps seniors who are often overlooked? This clarity fuels your interactions, narrowing your options. If your focus is minors, anticipate a background check in California.
2. What can you give? Identify your strengths—organization, art, music, reading, writing, and more. By aligning your skills with your volunteer role, you offer authentic support.
3. When can you go? Establish a consistent commitment that suits your schedule. This avoids becoming overwhelmed and maintains sustainable engagement.
4. Where? Countless nonprofits in the Valley would benefit from your contribution. Platforms like United Way or VolunteerMatch.com, along with direct organization websites, offer insights. Societies like Rotary, Kiwanis, and Optimist Club cater to diverse interests, collaborating with various nonprofits. Local entities like Boys & Girls Clubs, CDI, Valley Village, and New Horizons hold the power to unite the community.

For those interested in volunteering with Boys & Girls Club of the West Valley—a nonprofit enriching the lives of kids aged 5 to 18—reach out to Denise Zarate, Community Relations Manager, at d.zarate@bgcwv.org.

As you consider volunteering, remember that every act of giving catalyzes a reciprocal transformation. Embrace the opportunity to leave an indelible mark on hearts and lives, while shaping your own narrative of purpose and impact.

GARY M. THOMAS CLUBHOUSE

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Boys & Girls Club of the West Valley is a registered 501(c)(3) in the state of California and is permitted to receive gifts in Los Angeles. EIN: 95-4419365

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