Committing to Volunteerism

Food Assistance
Debbie Fitzpatrick enjoyed her experience working with NVFS through her company so much she is now a weekly volunteer.

Corporate volunteer opportunities are not only an excellent team-building opportunity; they also offer employees a chance to get more involved in their local community. Nuance Communications’ investment in corporate volunteer events included an early experience at NVFS’ Head Start Center in Arlington, followed by a second event to NVFS’ SERVE Campus in Manassas.

After volunteering at those two events, Debbie Fitzpatrick, marketing coordinator for the company’s health care division, decided she wanted to invest even more time to helping her neighbors.

“Hearing the stories of those that utilize NVFS’ services — it’s humbling and it’s sad to know there is so much need,” she explained. “I wanted to give more than a donation of money and things – I wanted to give my time, too. When you’re writing a check or dropping off a food donation, poverty, hunger, homelessness is an abstract concept. You know it’s there, but it doesn’t impact you.”

We asked Debbie to share some of her favorite experiences and advice for those looking to get involved, whether as an individual or as part of a group.

What has been your favorite volunteer experience?

It was during my first month at NVFS’ Hunger Resource Center, and a first-time senior client came in that evening. When I checked her out, she grabbed my hand and she was trying not to cry. She was thanking me and telling me how grateful she was to be there and how kind we were to her. I could see how proud she was, and it was difficult for her to be there. When she thanked me for everyone being so kind to her, I cried with her. And I was grateful that I was there, and even that little bit that I do every Wednesday night really means something to someone.

What advice would you give to someone who may be looking to get involved beyond their corporation’s or group’s volunteer activities?

If you’re thinking about it, just do it! I procrastinated for a very long time about getting out and volunteering. The time will never magically appear. Once I physically put a Wednesday evening block on my calendar and told my manager that I would be altering my schedule one day a week, I found that the time was always there. I just needed to reclaim it.

I’m so happy I got off the sidelines and stopped talking about volunteering my time and did it. I’m really enjoying it and my Wednesday evening co-workers.

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