First Annual Exchange Connection
The Importance of Volunteerism

Rick Noriega
(Rep District 145)


Have you ever driven through Houston’s third ward or fourth ward, past the rundown houses and vacated, vandalized buildings and wondered -- why doesn’t somebody clean this up? 

Or what about kids roaming the streets at night, do you often wonder why somebody doesn’t do something to get them off the streets? 

Why doesn't somebody do something to help the elderly -- find a safe place for the homeless -- give food to the hungry or step in to stop domestic violence and child abuse?


Most of you have seen celebrities giving public service announcements on television that address these very issues and more; then, with a direct look into the camera, the celebrity pointedly exposes the identity of those “somebodies” -- you and me. 


We, all of us, are the solution.  Through our corporate and business entities we can be ‘the somebody’ who runs to the pharmacy for medicine for an elderly shut-in.  We can assist the local food bank in supplying food for the hungry.  


We can institute programs and projects within the scope of community non-profit organizations that will drastically reduce the high school dropout rates.  Through corporate participation we can accomplish a positive change that will benefit not only the community but the corporate world as well. 


Taking a stand to stop hunger, abuse and violence; creating awareness campaigns that open our minds and hearts; assisting the public schools to increase our standards of education; or helping a financially strapped youngster attend college are some of the solutions a business entity can accomplish through volunteer corporate objectives.

As individuals, we can only accomplish so much. But as a group, with corporate support, mentoring and assistance, we can make a vital difference in the future of our communities and in our country. Through corporate sponsorships and volunteerism we can heighten social awareness and increase a commitment to a life-long social action that will increase not only the quality of life of those whom we help, but our own lives as well.

One of the most exciting, challenging and rewarding responsibilities a person can have is that of offering our own special skills, whether it is working with children, building and painting houses for a needy family or listening to stories told by our senior citizens.


Statistics show that a meaningful service experience instills a lifelong desire to contribute to society. This desire, along with the skills and knowledge participants’ gain through service, builds a strong future generation of citizens and community leaders.1  


Corporate volunteerism is simply good business.  It is a great way to develop new skills. For some jobs, formal education or training may not be required but employers want their employees to possess certain skills. Volunteering is a way to develop those skills in future employees.  


Many volunteer positions often involve a large degree of responsibility. Businesses may turn to group volunteer activities for team building, allowing employees to exercise leadership, develop problem-solving skills and become creative, effective employees, enhancing their on-the-job skills. 

The participation of corporate volunteers often supports a company's own strategies, visions and goals. A community can only be as healthy, vibrant and active as its members are willing to make it. Doing this involves time, energy, effort and commitment -- from every single member -- be it a single individual or a corporation.  


Educating and promoting awareness among business leaders about the benefits of community service programs to corporations, can build their reputations as well as develop the skills and experience of their employees, and create a more economically prosperous and vibrant society.  

A business’ social responsibility is to be profitable, enabling that company to provide challenging, well-paid jobs and the opportunities for development for all employees. It should be self evident that a business' success is ultimately dependent on the success, strength, and optimism of the community in which it operates.2


Businesses that help their communities through volunteerism will find they are growing a garden of future employees and leaders, unleashing their creativity and building teams that will carry them into the millennium and beyond. 


Partnering with service organizations such as Crime Stoppers and the Police Activities League can help lessen crime rates that eat and erode our economy.  Providing educational assistance through programs such as the Scholarship Program for Houston Youth, Inc. increases the field of educated job applicants that will support and maintain a growing economy.   


Therefore, it is also a responsibility of business to take an active role in shaping that community. Corporations can, by their actions, be one of the key contributors toward the evolution of our society in a direction that will benefit every citizen. 


Corporate volunteerism builds public trust, a vital element to any business’ ability to operate and compete.  Public trust is strengthened only if the business is seen as having a genuine concern and awareness for its community and makes a positive contribution. Ultimately, a business will do well by doing “good”.



 1 Corporation for National Service
Courtney Pratt, President of Noranda Inc. September 29, 1997


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