Q: Can you describe your volunteer effort(s)? What group do you serve? What’s their mission? What kinds of things do volunteers do for this group?
MJ: I volunteer for Big Brothers/Big Sisters, a group that matches adults with children to be mentors/role models. There are two types of volunteering – you can meet individually with your Little Brother/Sister for lunch at their school, or you can do individual home-based activities outside of school (evenings/weekends). You always meet individually with your little so that there’s a stronger relationship. I have done both in the past, but right now I am a lunchtime volunteer.
Right now I am paired with a kindergartener. The elementary school I volunteer at has special areas set up for the pairs to meet. There’s a separate area with tables for us to eat at and games we can play. My little brother especially likes Connect Four. On nice days we can go outside after we eat and play football or soccer.
I also do more general volunteering, especially for the local Bone Marrow drive.
Q: How or why did you get involved in volunteering?
MJ: I am the service coordinator for my fraternity in grad school and that started my interest in giving back to the community. There’s a real need for role models for younger children especially. They can see that the average person gives back and together you can do something positive. I also want to help start a culture of service in my community and at Reynolds.
Q: How long have you been involved? How much time do you devote to volunteering?
MJ: I’ve been working specifically with Big Brothers/Sisters for the past 2 years, but overall I have been volunteering with different groups for 5 or 6 years. I devote about 3 hours per week to volunteering – 2 hours for Big Brothers and 1 hour for other volunteering.
Q: Do your volunteer efforts impact your job at Reynolds?
MJ: I occasionally use volunteer leave for volunteer events, but for Big Brothers I can just go during my lunch hour.
Q: Do you have any tips for others who want to get involved?
MJ: I can give anyone who’s interested the contact information for Big Brothers. You can start as a lunch buddy because it’s not a huge time commitment and it will show you if it’s a good fit. And be patient – it takes time to build a good relationship.