Last Friday, November 18th, most of my team at Blackbaud participated in an all-day volunteer outing. I was aware that many other teams at Blackbaud were also participating in the event. Total, we had 425 employees volunteering at a number of different projects around the lowcountry area. That’s more than 10% of all Blackbaud employees in Charleston. What I didn’t realize was that the Day of Caring was an initiative far larger than Blackbaud. Throughout the day, it turned out that there were as many as 5000 volunteers working on 275 projects from downtown all the way out to Summerville. I only discovered this Friday morning when I arrived at Tricountry Family Ministries as the first of our team of 30 from Blackbaud and the venue was already bustling with activity. It turned out Homeland Security as well as a troupe of Navy Cadets had parties of equal or larger size than Blackbaud Product Managers participating at the same location.
Needless to say, it took a while for the entire group to get organized. But eventually, with the assistance of a fiery project coordinator, we were put into action and stayed busy for the next 6 hours. At Tricounty Family Ministries, we assisted with painting walls, packing hygiene kits, and filling many, many grocery bags full of canned foods and cereals and then loading them back into newly built shelving. The image below is only about a third of all the food bags we packed that day.
It was truly a great day in many respects. Besides the obvious benefit of providing assistance to those in need, it also proved to be a great team building day. Getting to do physical labor in shorts and a t-shirts with people you see everyday with a computer screen in front of them and all with a common, singular mission, you really get to form bonds on an entirely different level. I’m not sure why, but when your 9-5 professional existence consists so much of pondering, modeling, negotiating, convincing, proving, calling, meeting, and repeating, it felt really great to switch the mind off and just pick things up and put things down for hours. To be fair, I wouldn’t care to do that for the rest of my adult life; it was just an appreciated opportunity to put the body to work rather than the mind.
It also reminded me that I’ve had on my to-do list since I moved to Charleston to get involved in some sort of personal volunteering around town. In particular, I’ve thought much about ways I could get involved in mentoring, coaching, or just being a buddy within the traumatic brain injury community here in the lowcountry. Now that I’ve written it down and shared it publicly, that’ll be the motivation I need to reprioritize my infinite list of concerns and just take the first steps towards that goal.
Thank you, Day of Caring, for reminding me how rewarding volunteering can be. I’ll try not to allow myself to forget it again.