The Original Internet
As a part of our Global Month of Service, we are featuring blogs about the importance of volunteerism and community service. Today’s blog is written by René Wickham. René is Mary Kay Inc.’s Vice President of Product Quality and volunteers with the Citizens Development Center in Dallas, Texas.
Have you ever marveled at how the Internet has changed our lives? It seems not so long ago that when we needed to research something, we went to the library to search through the card catalog - yes, a set of wooden file drawers with little paper cards.
But it dawned on me recently that as radically as our lives have changed with the advent of the computerized Internet, there is an ORIGINAL INTERNET that has been a part of our lives much longer: the internet of the human race. You see, I believe in our connectedness as human beings, the human internet. Whether we acknowledge it or not, we are all inextricably connected to each other. To get the most from life, we must embrace our connectedness and learn from, and allow ourselves to be enriched by every interaction we have with others.
It is through this belief in connectedness that I was drawn to community service and volunteerism. None of us can live life without some help from others. Our knowledge of the world is limited by our own personal experience, but the puzzle becomes more complete when we allow in the knowledge of others. It seems trite, but I get and learn so much more from these activities than what I give.
I was introduced to Citizens Development Center (CDC) by a former work colleague at Mary Kay – Melanie Smith. Melanie has an adult brother who was born with a mental disability. CDC provides adults with disabilities, such as Down syndrome, an opportunity to work, earn a paycheck, learn basic life skills, contribute to the world and socialize in a safe environment.
Most of the work involves simple assembly tasks such as sorting compacts for recycling or sorting hangers from a dry clean facility. CDC also allows many of the parents to hold down a job, as they would otherwise have no choice but to stay home to care for their adult child. Melanie took me on a tour of the work center at CDC a few years ago, and seeing the joy of these adults contributing to the world was infectious!
I’ve worked with CDC for four years now in different capacities – as a board member contributing to the strategy and accomplishment of the mission of the organization, planting gardens on the work site and on Saturday projects painting the facility and cleaning restrooms.
With every interaction I learn something about myself and the world, whether it’s the fascinating team dynamics of achieving a goal, how others approach challenges and weather the storms of life or how to plant a garden that will attract butterflies. Whatever your skills, whatever your interests, there is a place for all of us in community service and volunteerism. Consider the ORIGINAL INTERNET – it may not be as hip as the latest gadget, but the rewards are there for the taking!
Tell us. What inspires you to volunteer?