I just returned from a week-long work camp, where I served as a contractor supporting high school students and their adult crew leaders who had volunteered their time to serve the needy in our community. Work Camp is held each year by the Catholic Diocese of Arlington, Virginia where teen volunteers help others by performing needed home repair and improvement services, like replacing weathered siding, painting homes, fixing roofs and replacing gutters, building wheelchair ramps, replacing drywall and flooring, installing new bathrooms and building play sets.
With the exception of the contractors, the teens and their adult crew leaders arrive at work camp unaware of their project or the tasks that await them. They are assigned to a crew consisting of five to six people they have never met. The team training they attend on their first day at camp allows them to build the relationships and learn the skills they will need to work with their residents and contractor in completing their project.
This is no ordinary work camp experience. This camp is about something much deeper than completing the task at hand – it’s about the relationships they form with each other, with the residents they serve, with their crew leader and with their contractor. It’s also an opportunity for them to strengthen and enrich their faith. It’s an organization where others are served not because of who they are; they are served because of who we are.
The story of my crew, like those of the other ninety or so other crews at work camp last week, began with a belief that by working together in the service of others we could accomplish the extraordinary. To the residents we served, the work we completed was much more than the needed home repairs and improvements they requested – it was protection from harsh weather conditions, a safe and secure home, hope for the future, a restored faith in America’s youth, a warm and caring friendship, the freedom to leave their homes, or the chance for a little boy or girl to be a kid again.
Now think of your not-for-profit organization, government agency or corporate entity. How well are your volunteers and employees working together to accomplish the extraordinary? Does how you serve your constituents say more about who they are or who you are?
For more on the impact volunteering can have on your community or brand, please see:
• How Volunteers and Community Managers Serve Brands, Too
• Your Brand and the Community It Serves
• What the Boy Scouts Can Teach Your Business About Serving Others