More Than a Good Deed: The Collective Power of Volunteering

More Than a Good Deed: The Collective Power of Volunteering

Date: October 26, 2016

When it comes to volunteering, Melissa Cheek has done it all — she’s prepared soups and casseroles, built houses for the homeless and weeded flowerbeds. Every year since 2010, she’s volunteered for United Way of Central Maryland’s Day of Action in a range of capacities. For her, it’s about more than the individual good deed. It’s about the collective power of volunteerism.

Melissa, a senior consultant for corporate social responsibility at T. Rowe Price, said, “I think that sometimes, when you’re out on a volunteer site for a couple of hours, you may not always realize how important that work is. But when you have people all over the area doing the same kinds of things you’re doing, it makes a huge difference. It has a lot more impact when you can say, ‘We removed tons and tons of trash,’ or, ‘We helped feed a thousand people.’ Those big numbers are a great way to convey the power of volunteerism.”

United Way’s Day of Action offers individuals and teams from companies across central Maryland the opportunity to volunteer for more than 40 hands-on projects, including preparing food at soup kitchens, upgrading school classrooms and grounds, and tending gardens that feed low-income residents.

“What’s great about United Way is that it identifies specific needs throughout the area and funnels volunteers and resources to fill them,” she said.

Melissa is responsible for recruiting and organizing the teams at her company to serve during Day of Action. She said the event often benefits her employees as much as the causes they serve. “It’s a great way to bring many different employees together who don’t get to interact often. It gives them experience in team building and networking while they’re doing something that benefits the community.”

Melissa is also T. Rowe Price’s point person on workplace giving campaigns, and says that Day of Action provides a way for employees to see where their dollars are going. “There can be a disconnect between the folks who are on the giving side and the receiving side of things,” she said. “What I love about United Way is that it offers opportunities like Day of Action for volunteers to really connect with the community and see the faces of the people who will benefit from their contributions through workplace giving. It really helps connect the dots.”

And, as Melissa said, no one ever knows when they might be on the receiving end. “You can’t predict where any of us will be a week from today,” said Melissa, who described a former colleague who received assistance from United Way after a fire destroyed his apartment. “Hopefully, we’ll never need those services, but it’s good to know that the things we are doing today help those when they need it most.”

Learn how to get involved with United Way of Central Maryland by donating financially or volunteering your time.

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