Tales from DRI2014’s Volunteer Day!

77 Clydes cornerIt came as no surprise to me that our annual DRI Foundation Volunteer Day in Atlanta was a successful and rewarding day for both me and our 50+ volunteers. This year, our certified professionals teamed with a local a real estate company and a church group (more on them later). In total, there were nearly 80 people working at three distinctly different volunteer work opportunities.

Our people working at Truly Living Well (a community organic vegetable garden) pulled weeds, cultivated, cleared debris, raked and learned the secrets of a successful inner city garden. Those signing up to work at the Atlanta Community Food Bank worked intwo shifts in the morning and afternoon, (though one of our members worked a double shift — thank you, Cathi Martin!), sorting food products to be distributed throughout the Atlanta area to those in need. With other volunteers at the food bank, we helped sort of 9,950 pounds of products in the a.m. shift and 10,913 pounds in the p.m. shift. This translates into 17,295 meals!

Our other major effort included working with Rebuilding Together Atlanta, where our group joined forces with a real estate company to work collaboratively on the painting and yard cleanup/bush trimming for two homes in a non-affluent community. The home owners, both elderly women, were incredibly appreciative of the work and commotion around their homes. Along with the real estate team, we also had volunteers from the church of one of our Atlanta-based DRI instructors, James Price, who recruited his friends and fellow parishioners to come work on the home projects (thank you, James!). Judging by the smiles on the faces of our volunteers and home owners — and the paint-splattered DRIF T-shirts and jeans — this was a successful day!

7771ClydesCornerSo this year saw much spirit of cooperation and giving. This was the first time I took the leap to spread our scope a bit to three different activities and to reach out to local groups for support as part of our team contribution to the community where our conference was based. I was very gratified by the outcome, the camaraderie, the enthusiasm and the energy that was contagious at each activity. As part of our thanks to the volunteers, we held our traditional “pep rally” on Friday night where dinner, T-shirts, and goody bags were provided to the group. Many organizations stepped up this year with products for the goody bags and my thanks go out to them (Rentsys, the Disaster Resource Guide, Magnetic Greetings/WTBI, and NEWtritious).

Sometimes things happen around the very inspiring day of caring and giving. This year was no exception. As is our tradition, lunches are provided to our hard-working volunteers. When the group at the house painting project was having lunch, many local children were riding their bikes nearby watching our teams eating. Clearly hungry, and some vocalizing such, we quickly decided to pack up the extra sandwiches and snacks and walk it down the block to a large family (and extended family) who might appreciate it.

We stopped at the porch of one of homes and announced that we had brought food to them. With James Price in the lead, we formed an
impromptu hand-holding circle as James said a quick blessing for the food and the families. It was a special moment for us all. And the happy children were simply icing on the cake.

As is our tradition, we make sure that the groups we work with are provided lunch, and 772 Clydes Corner Volunteer Daythis year we also made a special donation of sandwiches, water, and snacks to a local shelter for victims of domestic violence. As we seek ways to expand our circle of giving from the DRI Foundation, we take special pride in doing the little things at conference time to make the lives of a few just a little better.

My most sincere thanks and heartfelt appreciation to all who volunteered this year, who are all so kind as to make donations to the Foundation, and all who have reached out to me to be involved in the Volunteerism Committee; and efforts to share both our BCP knowledge for the betterment of those impacted by disasters and those clearly in need.   We can and will continue to grow our mission to have our certified professionals around the globe be ambassadors for caring and giving.

At the Gala this year, I went off-script a bit from the prepared comments at the podium and asked those who volunteered this year and previous years to stand and remain standing. I then asked those who volunteer in their communities to do the same. Almost the entire ballroom was then on their feet. I remarked that if we could just apply that same percentage to our globally certified 11,000 professionals and have them all volunteer via the Foundation’s efforts it would be an amazing and impactful thing. Isn’t that the goal?

Please reach out to me with your suggestions, thoughts, or simply a note of support, and have a great summer!

All the best,

Clyde Berger

Chair of the Volunteerism Committee and Vice President of the DRI Foundation