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Professionals & Volunteering: Why it’s a Win-Win

Spending time helping others through volunteering can have just as many, if not more benefits than your 9-5 gig.  Here’s how:

Tangible End Product

Many of us work at jobs where we provide services instead of producing a physical product.  Volunteering to clean a park, paint a mural, or staff an event means that at the end of the day, you can stand back and say, “I helped do that.”  That type of productivity can fill an unmet need for those whose days are filled with phone calls and reports.

Stress Relief

Your day job takes a lot out of you and can leave little time for self-reflection. Focusing your mind on tasks that help others can spark moments of creativity, help you get past mental blocks and reduce stress. All of which, make you better at your day job.

Hello, Dream Job

Most non-profits are happy to train their volunteers.  Assisting a charity builds up your skill set and allows you to meet and collaborate with key people in various industries.  Those relationships can lead to mentorships or job offers. Forbes.com reports that more than 1 million members of the professional website LinkedIn have added charity work to their profiles.

Interested in volunteering? Try nycservice.org.  You can search opportunities by zip code or area of interest.

What kind of volunteer work would you like to do?

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Benefits of Being a Mentor

Many businesswomen have benefited from a relationship with a trusted mentor.  Once you’re ready to be a mentor yourself, don’t hesitate to reach out to others.  Being a mentor can help your career in unexpected ways.

Career Growth

Anne Fisher, senior writer for Fortune, wrote about the benefits of mentoring at money.cnn.com, citing a study by the HR department at Sun Microsystems.  They compared the career progress of roughly 1,000 employees for 5 years.  These are the results:

  • Both mentors and mentees were approximately 20% more likely to get a raise than people who did not participate in the mentoring program.
  • 28% of mentors received a raise – versus only 5% of managers who were not mentors.
  • Mentors were SIX times more likely to be promoted.

Those are some pretty sound statistics, well worth the effort to be a mentor for those benefits alone.  However, there’s more to gain from advising your fellow business people.

Networking

The more relationships you have in business, the better.  When you mentor a young person, they become your ally, and their loyalty will serve you well as you both grow in your careers.  Your mentee can introduce you to their business contacts and friends, which will double your pool of potential clients and collaborators.

Mentor and Mentees

Problem-Solving

Simply helping someone with their career obstacles is good practice for tackling your own.  Try bouncing ideas off of one another and help one another see issues from a fresh perspective.

Plus, it feels good to help people!  Lisa Quast, contributor to Forbes.com, founded the volunteer foundation Wing to Wing Women’s Mentoring Project to inspire women to reach out and offer guidance to one another.  Visit the website for a free mentoring guide.

Is there someone in your office who you’d like to mentor?

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Help NYC Foster Kids – Save CASA NYC

My heart was broken when I read that New York State had cut the funding for the Child Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) program in NYC (NY Times) I actually broke into tears.

As a former NYC foster kid, I know how important these services are. Speaking from my own experience, it was vital for me to have someone speak on my behalf during court hearings and check in on me as I was being shuffled from home to home. Our foster care system is far from perfect, but Special Advocates create an important level of consistency for those in the system. They’re the ones that provide family updates to foster kids, check in with teachers, and (in my case) provide ongoing comfort and hope. Their actions remind foster kids (during very difficult times) that there are people who care for them and will make sure that their voices are heard.

My experience in foster care is what is known as a success story. After some recurring periods in the system, I was reunited with my family. I’ve gone on to graduate from college, become a successful professional, open my own business and travel to far off places. I have been able to achieve happiness in life because there were good people (like the ones at CASA) willing to fight for me when I couldn’t. I am eternally grateful to those people (my heroes) and want them to be around to help other foster kids in the future.

Please donate whatever you can to help CASA NYC – stay open this year and for years to come. They need to raise $800,000 in total, but whatever we can raise will help make a difference. Also, please forward this page to your family and friends and ask them to make a donation as well.

CASA NYC does make a difference in the lives of those who need support most. Being a foster kid means you have already lost so much. They shouldn’t lose their voices (Special Advocates) too.

Thanks so much for your support
-Charell Star

#SaveCasaNYC