The Silver Anniversary of Volunteering

Guest Author: Alison Doerfler, Executive Director of HandsOn Network
This past Saturday was the 25th Anniversary of Hands On Atlanta Day. I could think of no better way to honor an important milestone than to serve my community and support one of the founding affiliate members of HandsOn Network. Not only does Hands On Atlanta share an office building with Points of Light, but we share a milestone year. 2015 is also the silver anniversary of Points of Light. We will honor this moment in time at our annual Conference On Volunteering and Service in Houston, the hometown of our founder President George H. W. Bush.
Both of these organizations play a pivotal role in my personal and professional commitment to service and I continue to celebrate the role that service plays in my life and the lives of my children, who were with me this past Saturday volunteering. The values that both Hands On Atlanta and Points of Light share – that people drive change, that service bridges and bonds, and that innovation and partnerships creates impact are values that motivate me as a parent and as an employee. Volunteering and giving back was something I learned from an early age, and I am continuing with that tradition.
As I reflect on the significance of these milestones and connections, I realize that 2015 is also the year of my 25th high school reunion at a school in Atlanta that promoted Hands On Atlanta’s model of engagement. After gasping for air at how time flies, I dug deeper. Hands On Atlanta was where my younger brother engaged as a volunteer in high school, and it is how my parents became volunteers, donors and leaders in the local volunteer movement. What I realized so profoundly on Saturday was how relevant it was to be a part of HandsOn Atlanta Day.
With this reflection, it comes as no surprise that volunteer management became a part of my career. Immediately following the events of 9/11, I started working at the HandsOn Network Affiliate Chicago Cares. The work I did specifically with companies in Chicago that invested in the community through corporate volunteerism was a natural fit for my background and was fertile ground. As my career evolved, so did my connection with HandsOn Network. Immediately following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, I embarked on an 8 year path at what was called City Cares, which became HandsOn Network, and is now a part of Points of Light. As I think about the path I walked, I have amazing insight that I intend to leverage to inform the work ahead of me at Points of Light.
The 10th Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, the 25th year of Hands On Atlanta Day and the 25th anniversary of Points of Light, culminate in 2015 (not to mention my 25th high school reunion!). This is also the year I returned to the conversation as the Executive Director of HandsOn Network. It is with pride and joy that I take on this role and look ahead to the strategic pathways of connection, integration and impact for the organization and the sector.