This post is sponsored by Women Online. #RewardVolunteers, #WhyVolunteer, #NationalVolunteerMonth
Back in 2007, I was newly pregnant and looking to find some new, local “mom friends” for myself. I’ve long been an active member of online communities, but I really longed for friends who were closer to home, friends of the “let’s meet for coffee” type. I joined my local message board on TheBump.com, and started meeting people.
There were moms of many types there, all of us in the throes of new parenthood, in all its forms. One of those moms was Libby. A snarky personality, I liked her immediately, and her daughter, Jennifer, was brand new, and would be only a few months older than Max.
We had a great group online, “The Bumpies,” and we all grew into our roles as our kids grew up. From day care to preschool, all of our kids grew, and then suddenly they were in kindergarten.
Jennifer and Max didn’t go to the same school, but they were the same year, starting kindergarten just a few days apart. Two months into the school year, on Jennifer’s sixth birthday, the world was flipped upside down and torn apart, and she was diagnosed with DIPG, a terminal and incurable brain tumor.Libby was a champion for Jennifer, and #Love4JLK started as a social media hashtag and grew into something so much more.
Jennifer passed away that February, she was only six years old.
In her honor, Libby started Unravel Pediatric Cancer, an organization that is dedicated to fundraising for pediatric cancer research, and has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars in the four years since Jennifer died.
I’ve been involved with Unravel since before it had a name, and while my available time is limited now, I still find ways to help where and when I can. I’m able to share my digital marketing knowledge, and help with the occasional task as it comes up, whether it’s building custom audiences on Facebook or reaching out to organizations to donate raffle prizes for a Mama’s Night Out event.
Non-profits like Unravel rely on the work of volunteers, and don’t think that there’s nothing you can do; we all have our strengths and if you let them know what you can do, there’s sure to be a need that’s waiting to be filled.
There’s a great site, Reward Volunteers, that allows you to manage and track your volunteer hours, as well as find new places to volunteer. It’s so easy to create an account and start tracking. The more hours you log, you can earn prizes for yourself or your organization! It’s so cool to be able to see the hours piling up, and think about all the good that’s being put out in the world. I love that you can see what other people in your area are volunteering for, with updates as they log their hours as well.
Volunteering is such an important part of life; it’s important to give back, especially when you’re in a position that things are going well for you and your family. It can be humbling and fulfilling and fun, all at the same time.