This month we are recognizing software engineer Matt Will. He’s been an active volunteer since his first week at Don’t Panic Labs in January. Here’s what he told us when we asked about his various volunteer experiences.
Why do you volunteer?
It’s just a really easy way for me to give back to the community. I see my time as being relatively inexpensive; I have a lot of time so it’s an easy thing to do.
What do you enjoy most about volunteering? A favorite memory?
Just seeing the smiles on the faces of the people I’m helping is a powerful motivator. It also helps knowing that it’s something selfless to do, especially with the Teammates mentoring I’m a part of. I know he looks forward to our visits because he tells me how much he misses our time together if we skip a week.
Last summer I volunteered at Royal Family Kids Camp, a week-long camp for kids in foster care. I feel like I’m making a difference by simply hanging out with kids who may not have very stable lives. I met one of my campers a few weeks after camp at a function held by my previous employer. It was really cool to not only see him but also get to talk with his foster parents and see how he’s doing outside of the camp environment. Being able to have even a small impact on a person really makes it hit home with me.
How has your volunteer experience impacted your workplace?
Prior to joining Don’t Panic Labs, my volunteer time was limited to the time I had available outside of normal work hours. It wasn’t possible for me to volunteer during the workday, even for an hour. It was very difficult to juggle my non-work time with volunteer opportunities during the week. But here, it’s really easy to say, “yeah, that sounds awesome – I can help with that” whenever Amanda sends out an email telling us about an upcoming event. Since the company supports it, I don’t ever feel like I’m stealing time from them if it occurs during office hours.
What have you learned while volunteering?
The biggest thing I’ve learned is how important it is to be selfless. In our society it seems like so many things we do is always about “me, me, me” and the instant gratification of getting something for ourselves. But volunteering is all about helping other people. For me it’s been the change in my heart, seeing the smiles on others’ faces, and helping bring joy to those who are less fortunate than I am.
Do you have any advice for other volunteers or people who want to get involved?
Don’t be afraid to get out there and just do it. With Teammates, it may seem intimidating to mentor a middle school student, but you’re just sharing life with them. You’re not going to make things worse for these kids by just meeting with them. Just don’t be intimidated by the opportunity to make a positive change.