Andy Unterseher – Communitarian of the Month

This month we are recognizing engineer Andy Unterseher. Here’s what he told us when we asked about his volunteer experiences.

Why do you volunteer?

I think volunteering is great in all aspects. It’s great for our company because it helps bring people together and it gives people common challenges to solve together outside of the workplace. It also brings people together who don’t normally work on the same projects, like development and sales or interns working with other engineers.

Obviously it’s awesome for the people we volunteer for. I feel like what we do is highly impactful. I’ve been part of the group that’s been teaching kids to code in the schools and at Boys & Girls Clubs this summer. I really hope it will impact their entire lives. We may even get a couple kids who become coders someday, but more importantly we’re teaching them problem-solving and critical thinking skills, and giving them a toolset that they can use for the rest of their lives.

There are also tons of studies that show the health and mental benefits of volunteering and helping others.

What do you enjoy most about volunteering? A favorite memory?

I really enjoy teaching kids to code. One of my favorite memories is when 10/11 came out for a news story about the program. When he was interviewed, one of the kids said that before he started the program he wanted to be a football player and now he wants to be a programmer. That was pretty awesome.

How has your volunteer experience impacted your workplace?

It gives me an opportunity to work with people I usually don’t get to. There are some people I wouldn’t even know if it wasn’t for the volunteer program here at work. I also think it makes for a healthier atmosphere. It gives people a better perspective on what they’re doing and where they are in their lives. It also gives people an opportunity to clear their head and do something different instead of constantly banging on the same problem.

It’s helped me when I’ve been stuck. I’d go volunteer and by the time I get back I’ve solved the problem in my head. It’s that subconscious working.

What have you learned while volunteering?

There are a lot of awesome organizations in Lincoln and there are a lot of awesome people who run those organizations. Nearly everywhere we volunteer has some great people who have dedicated their lives to running their organizations.

I really love going to the VA Hospital Food Pantry because it’s pretty awesome to get to help the people who show up. Many of them are very proud and usually reluctant to take assistance of any kind, so it’s pretty special to do something even as simple as helping them take food out to their cars.

Do you have any advice for other volunteers or people who want to get involved?

Just do it. Obviously we have a huge benefit here at DPL by having free reign to leave whenever we go volunteer, but there are so many organizations out there that it’s easy to find something to do. Pretty much anything you like to do there’s probably some volunteering you can do associated with that interest. You just have to decide to do it and then go do it.

Communitarian chart

Since joining the Don’t Panic Labs team, Andy has volunteered for these organizations: CEDARS Youth Services, Center for People in Need, Boys & Girls Clubs of Lincoln/Lancaster County, Family Service, Food Bank of Lincoln, Friendship Home, Keep Lincoln/Lancaster County Beautiful, Lincoln Children’s Museum, Lincoln Children’s Zoo, Lincoln Food Bank, Lincoln Marathon, Nebraska Community Blood Bank, People’s City Mission, Raikes School, Salvation Army, St. Monica’s, TeamMates Mentoring, Volunteer Partners, and YMCA.

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