By Jonelle Henry
My world never seems to slow down. As an International Producer at C-SPAN, my days are crowded with meetings and deadlines – and in my "spare time" I just recently completed my thesis for my Communications graduate program. But despite the hectic nature of my schedule, I always make the time to volunteer and give back to my community.
So what is volunteerism? I love this definition that I found: "Volunteerism is the principle of donating time and energy for the benefit of other people in the community as a social responsibility, rather than for any financial reward."
For me, volunteerism is not just something to do; it's a privilege to serve others and invest in something I truly believe in. For the past few years, I've enjoyed every minute serving on the Alliance for Women in Media National Board of Directors. My journey with AWM actually began in 2006 at the local level, when I served as the Vice-President of the DC Affiliate. When I became the DC Affiliate President in 2008, I saw firsthand how volunteerism can change lives. My time with AWM DC never felt like a "service project," but rather an honorable service to many women (and men!) in our industry. One of my favorite volunteer memories is serving as a Judge for the Gracie Awards (pictured below with my fellow judges in 2012).
Last year, I joined the AWM National Board as a Director, which was a completely different (and equally as challenging) level of service. I know that when I volunteer, I really am making a difference in the AWM and media communities. I also get to be a part of planning fantastic events like our Symposia Series and the Gracie Awards. But again, the great thing about this volunteer effort is that it doesn't feel like work. Instead it feels like a rewarding opportunity to work with some of the best women in the business and to help others develop professionally. Because of my rewarding experiences with AWM, I know that I will continue to serve in this organization for a very long time.
As you may know, this week is National Volunteer Week, where people around the country are celebrating the work of volunteers in every organization and industry. And this Saturday, I plan to join a group of friends in the HandsOn Greater DC Cares service project at a local homeless shelter. If you search for volunteer opportunities in your local communities, I'm sure you'll find hundreds of ways to give back this week. But what about taking it a step further, and try giving back to an organization all year long? I encourage you all to find an organization that you care about and ask for ways to give back today!
Jonelle Henry is an International Producer at C-SPAN and serves on the AWM National Board of Directors.