The Value of Volunteering

Earlier this month, I was an invited presenter at the Texas Funeral Directors Association’s 1st Annual Emerging Leaders University. My topic was Community Involvement, so I had a chance to teach by example, sharing with my class some of the ways in which our team makes contributions to the Brazos Valley in their off hours. I spoke on the value of volunteering.

Thinking about the special community we all live in, the Brazos Valley is really “powered by volunteerism”—no matter your business, school, or sports team. You can always count on people coming together, giving their time and talents to make something happen, and there’s an amazing outpouring of care and consideration our community makes when we team up and work together.

Each nonprofit organization should be recognized and congratulated for developing advocacy among all our residents. Children learn from parents and grandparents who volunteer and they should be invited to help do whatever they can. Everyone can make a contribution by setting an example and getting family members involved whenever possible.

Sometimes I learn that Chelsea has volunteered “us” for something, and I love doing it. Other times, I tell her where “we” are needed. Answering the call for help, that’s what all of us have in common in Bryan-College Station. Rarely do people in this wonderful community bypass a call for help. Whether buying food for a local pantry, stuffing the bus with needed school supplies, or diving in the mud for Hospice Hogsplash, there’s so many ways our team enjoys giving back.

Nonprofits need volunteers to accomplish their missions. Callaway-Jones team members make me proud—We come together to support Rotary, the BCS Chamber of Commerce, Gary Blair Charities, the Hispanic Forum, Brazos Valley Hospice, and more.

At the Emerging Leaders University, I shared how proud my team makes me on and off their work hours. Each one is a prized contributor back to our community; they didn’t know that one day they’d be featured in a professional seminar, but they were.

Speaking of teams, one of my favorites is our golf team, Team Bulldog. We enter a lot of charity golf tournaments together and we have a great time playing. We’ve been very fortunate in the past years. I like to think it’s more about teamwork than golf skill, but both are important.

Most recently we won 1st place in the BVSO Golf Tournament, and we had Ryan Maliska, Landon Allen, Brandon DeStefano and I out there enjoying the great weather, and we received a prize and this one beautifully decorated cookie. Not saying who won the cookie, but have I mentioned I love sweets?

It’s not about the cookie, or the opportunity to play golf, but it’s because of the volunteers in the community who care about the arts in Bryan-College Station. Our Brazos Valley Symphony is so essential to the young artists here, inspiring them to continue their studies to perhaps one day be a working professional musician.

When I was working on my presentation to the Texas Funeral Directors Association for their first Emerging Leaders University, it was a great honor to be invited to give one of the five keynote addresses. It meant that someone who knows our family’s funeral home knows that we’ve been in Bryan-College Station and the Brazos Valley for over 60 years. My grandparents and great-grandparents were in another part of Texas for over 40 years before that.

And, I’m proud to say that my parents modeled volunteering in the community to me, without saying a word about the great things they did. I remember learning, years after the fact, that my grandfather had an ambulance car that he’d park on Kyle Field for every football game, in case a player became injured and needed immediate transport to the hospital. Back in his time, St. Joseph Hospital was the primary place to go, and we didn’t have a ton of private ambulance services in town either.

Funeral homes in early, early Texas were often located downstairs in a building where the families lived upstairs. You were literally living, then, in the heart of your community, which is exactly what my great-grandparents did. It’s a great thing to be part of the Jones family but with it comes the need to remember that everything they modeled, we learned by their example. Volunteering was one of those things.

There was for them value in volunteering because it took them away from their home base, their office, and gave them a chance to be part of the community known by their first names rather than by their profession. Not everyone realizes that morticians are not the scary people, with the creepy organ music playing in the background. That’s just at Halloween that we get thought of that way, I think (I hope), but it is what it is.

My entire team at Callaway-Jones is in the thick middle of all the good activities going on in town. One employee is very involved in his church and in the world of emergency responders in Bryan and College Station. Another is key in organizing fund-raisers for the SHIP group–the Shelter the Homeless International Project group. She organized and collected multiple prom dresses for young women in an orphanage in El Salvador who would be celebrating their 15th birthdays in ceremonies called quinceaneras. It’s the biggest time in their young lives, but without SHIP’s help, there’s no way they’d have special dresses to mark their debuts as young women.

Another of our employees is vital to her church in multiple projects across several age groups. Then another team member volunteers to help raise funds for Hospice, she’s in her children’s schools PTO groups, and is a classroom mom when time permits. She really “does it all.”

Team members are longtime Brazos Valley award-winning volunteers for arts, health, education, and sports nonprofits in her long career here. Still another doesn’t have very much free time because of all her responsibilities, but she does organize blood drives, at the drop of a hat, whenever there’s a need. She’s really good at it, too!

I’m not naming names here because it’s “just what they do outside of work.” Their good works and deeds, like all the rest of you in the Brazos Valley are done for the value of volunteering–the good feeling they get when something they said, did, or remembered brought a smile to a face that had not had one in a long time.

Chances are good though, that in almost every wonderful volunteer organization, large or small, you’ll find one of our team members participating because it’s something personal inside them that they want to do with their precious free time. They each make an important difference in our organization and in our community. And I’m proud they’re on our team.

No one person is as smart as all of us, it is said, and no one person’s gifts of time and talent define an organization, although they can have a very strong impact. It is the teamwork of many people working together that keeps the Brazos Valley growing and strengthening in our resolve to help more people every day. Saluting all the volunteers at Callaway-Jones and in Bryan-College Station. Let’s keep having great things happen every day!

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