Plugging-In to the Nonprofit Community

Moving to a new city is daunting enough when your only connections are a cousin, and a friend from college. Never mind figuring out life in general as a single gal in her late twenties, having followed a circuitous career path, and no idea what the future holds, just the hope that it is going to be wonderful! Do you let yourself change completely (because you can, and only two people would really know!) or do you stay true to who you are and keep on creating the life you’ve been living, just in a new location…after careful consideration, and realizing I really like who I am, I decided to go with option B.

Being of the do-gooder variety I knew there was no way I would not be involved in the Austin community. It was essentially my first act of business upon arrival, along with starting a new job (oh, and finding a place to live!), to find an organization, or several, that I could be lucky enough to be a part of, and start contributing to the Austin community. Having worked for a start-up, a large corporation, and a non-profit, with a grad school stint in between, I have had a balanced work experience, and was looking forwarding to feeling passion again for volunteering. The non-profit experience exposed me to the triumphs and challenges of the non-profit world and so volunteering means so incredibly much to me, and I know how vital it is to a community. I also knew that being new to a city; volunteering and getting involved would be a great way to meet similar minded folks.

I am so very lucky to work for a company that supports, encourages, and seeks out community service opportunities for its employees. While chatting with some coworkers at the Greenlights Board Summit, I found out about the Austin Young Women’s Alliance. Prior to arriving in Austin, I had a strong desire to find an organization like this, so I was excited to find out more information and went to the next monthly meeting. I was in, I was hooked, and I was ready to join forces with the fabulous young women of Austin and help transform this city, and would probably end up transforming myself.

I joined a few committees, and hold a chair position on one of them. At times I feel a little too busy, but when I remind myself of the big picture, I feel so lucky to be able to be a part of the YWA in the capacity that I am. Through the YWA I have been able to volunteer with various projects, and love that there are new opportunities with new organizations. How could I not take advantage? Again…it makes me busier, but hello! The world needs us!

Not only through the YWA am I able to find great volunteer opportunities, but our Giving Program at work, works with great non-profit organizations, which has allowed me to investigate who needs help with what.

I cannot even begin to describe what it feels like to give back. Whether it is my time or money…I am so blessed, and lucky enough to be in a position to make a difference. In the end though, it is the people that I have worked with who have made the difference in my life. Although I suppose that begs the question, is it about them, or is it about me? I volunteer because I feel like I have something to contribute to the world. I don’t do it for any recognition, and I don’t do it for any amount of hours, or something to put on my resume.

I care about people, about causes, and fighting for what is right. I believe in the old adage that we are all in this together. We need to work together. And sometimes we need a little guidance, and a little help to find our passion, and where in the community we can let that passion run free. It’s the best feeling in the world.

Jill Faulkner