Starting with our now traditional “pep rally” on Monday night – where we provided last minute instructions and distributed T-shirts, goodie bags, Philadelphia magnets, and certificates of participation – we really got off to a great start. Old and new friends mingled and had an opportunity to swap work stories and provide personal updates.
Early Tuesday morning, our first group of volunteers grabbed water bottles, fruit, and granola bars and boarded the bus for the Habitat for Humanity Restore. This eager bunch, with strong backs and equally strong determination, worked on moving, sorting, and organizing donated goods within the warehouse. At least one volunteer participant took the opportunity to help the Habitat cause by shopping in the Restore and purchasing a table to take home with him. Fortunately, he was driving and not flying back home! Others painted and worked outdoors, helping to revitalize and repair the site.
Later that evening, and even later in the week, we could identify the painters by the stubborn paint blotches still evident on knees, faces, and arms. This crew of workers spent the full day with Greg Bradley at Habitat, had a great time, and enjoyed lunch (purchased from Di Nic’s, The Original Turkey Store and Mezza in the Reading Terminal Market) under a shade tree. Sharing our meal with the Habitat crew (it is now our tradition to provide lunch to our host organizations), we had a great time swapping stories while regaining strength for the afternoon of work chores. Greg was quite appreciative and called us his best group ever. I love when that happens.
At midday, our second group of volunteers gathered outside the hotel and was provided their lunch out of the back of my SUV. With the sun brightly shining above and cool breeze blowing, we all sat on what proved to be a good picnic spot…the Marriott brick driveway entrance wall. As has also been our tradition, we offered lunch to the doormen, bellhops, and even a few locals who were in need of a good meal. Giving back takes many forms for the Foundation, and within the confines of our mission statement we define ‘giving back’ as helping those in need and those working to help others. Once our second group of volunteers had eaten lunch and snacks they were off by bus (a special shout-out to the Philadelphia Trolley Works and to our great driver Fred) to Philabundance.
At the food bank, many worked the assembly line sorting and boxing food while a second group worked in the “cold room” sorting and packaging frozen meats. The two groups had a very productive day packaging over 10,000 pounds of dry goods and 10,000 pounds of frozen goods. Wow! Thank you to this determined (and sometimes cold) group of volunteers. Again, in the true spirit of giving back, extra lunch foods (sandwiches, vegetarian dishes, snacks, and sweets) were donated to the food bank staff who eagerly and happily enjoyed lunch compliments of the DRI Foundation.
So, to all of our 55+ volunteers, my heartfelt thank you for making the day so successful for us as an organization, but, more importantly, for all those who ultimately benefit from your hard work and willingness to share your time and energy. Not resting on our laurels or satisfied that once a year volunteerism makes us successful, we are hard at work outlining that which so many of you have asked for previously – a roadmap to year-round giving from the DRI Foundation via our certified professionals all around the globe. We are regionalizing the structure and defining our target recipients (including those needing physical work efforts with hammers and strong backs, and also those who would benefit from our professional experience to assist with emergency preparedness and true BCP-type efforts). As with any start-up organization, we are working logically and carefully to plan and organize our intent and delivery model. Please let me know directly if you have ideas or thoughts about volunteerism while flying the DRI Foundation banner in your communities or part of the world. We welcome suggestions and commitment.
Again, my thanks and appreciation to the many of you who made Volunteer Day 2013 such a big success. Your help, dedication, and passion coupled with inspiring enthusiasm really made me so proud of all of you! It was a fun and productive day, with fond memories that inspire me to do more for next year and also to find better ways for us to work yearlong on our mission of giving back where needed.
All the best,
Vice President and Director of Volunteerism
DRI International Foundation