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How has the War on Poverty influenced your career? Response to Linked In Discussion started by Cody Switzer, Web Editor at The Chronicle of Philanthropy

16 Jan

Hmmm… was not necessarily cognizant re: the War on Poverty (I was five when the campaign was launched) – but adult volunteers (from that ERA) supported me and my Boy Scout troop, made it possible to become an Eagle Scout – learned to do a good turn daily, to be helpful… concurrently learned about the Peace Corps through a cassette recording from the son of my fifth grade teacher (A Peace Corps Volunteer).


Perhaps he and other Peace Corps volunteers who inspired me (along with my Boy Scout experience) to take two years after college to make the world a better place. I joined the Peace Corps helped to revitalize the Barbados Boy Scouts Association – led to a thirty plus year nonprofit, volunteer engagement, and capacity building career and now consulting at the World Bank joining the world-wide fight to end extreme poverty.

20131110_205551 cropped Lincoln Memorial - MLK speech

I surmise that a number of the mentors, role models, and colleagues I worked with were inspired by the War on Poverty and indirectly they inspired and informed my work.

20131110_211527 FDR 3 - in wheelchair

During my career I helped to found or organize over 100 new Scouting organizations in Barbados and the US that have involved and hopefully inspired 2 or 3 more generations of young people perhaps these have also connected 10 to 50,000 young people to quality Scouting or Exploring experiences to learn about and try out merit badges or career exploration leading to careers or life-long interest and perhaps a third or more of them have in turn volunteered and inspired other young people.

20131110_212155 FDR 1 - the bread line

This combined with supporting a network of American Red Cross chapter directors and chairs of volunteers connecting up to a million volunteers a year to (usually) quality volunteer opportunities has made a difference.

IMG_4017 1977 National Boy Scout Jamboree Obstacle Course

My since thanks to the volunteers and the Returned Peace Corps volunteers that inspired me and to the thousands and millions of volunteers who pay it forward every day through volunteer acts and random acts of kindness. I hope Monday – MLK Jr. Day – is a day of service and reflection for you, not just another day off.

My thanks also to Cody Switzer at the Chronicle of Philanthropy for inspiring me to reflect on how I can pay it forward.

“Mug them” the latest of 143 ways to say thank you to a volunteer…

30 Jul

How many ways can you/we say thank you to a volunteer? Please # and add to the list, thanks. LinkedIn Discussion in Volunteer Management Best Practices network

1. [Directly to the volunteer say] Thanks for volunteering today
2. Print a set of business cards for the volunteer
3. Greet them by name
4. Send out volunteer eCards…

Hmmm… So it is summer I wonder if there are any unique ways to recognize volunteers during the Summer?

Since Darlene gets credit for at least # 142 – great suggestions by the way…

Might I offer #143…

“Mug them” for years my father then later I received and proudly displayed our annual “Recognition Mug” for volunteering several days or a week at Boy Scout Summer Camp.  All in all a pretty good trade a week’s vacation and perhaps $100 or so to get to sleep in a tent, get plenty of exercise walking up and down hills through the woods, perhaps helping with a merit badge class, or helping younger boys learn Second and First Class skills, then of course someone has to help taste test the “Cobbler” and sit in on a Board of Review or 3 or 4 and attend a couple of Campfires, and did I mention drive a car full of boys about 350 miles each way – and yes I was very happy to walk down into the campfire circle each year and collect my mug and a round of applause from the Scouts.

What are a few other “seasonal” ways to recognize volunteers?

Note: my sincere thanks to colleagues who contributed the first 142 ways to say thank you to a volunteer. You all do amazing work and provide brilliant insights into year round volunteer recognition and retention.

Bruce Summers

Summers “Engagement” Consulting.

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