By Katalin Wishart, Senior Grantwriter at Joining Vision and Action

JVA’s work is all about supporting nonprofits and social enterprises, but outside of work, many of our staffers also give back by serving on nonprofit boards and committees. It makes perfect sense to us, but a lot of people just don’t get it. And I know where they’re coming from: Like me, they work, have children and juggle multiple activities and commitments—yes, I’m talking sports, music lessons, helping with homework, making meals, taking the dog for a walk and fitting in a workout here and there—so why take on one more thing?

I can’t speak for anyone else, but I feel really lucky to hold board positions. It’s not one more thing I have to do, it’s one more thing I have the opportunity to do. The monthly meetings might seem to come too quickly and I might have to shift some things around when they do, but I’ve never been to a meeting where I didn’t learn something new or feel like my life wasn’t enriched in some way. Every month, I share a table with people who are interested and passionate about making positive change.

Let’s face it, we all know people in our lives and in our communities who seem hard-wired to focus on the negative. But the people with whom I’ve served on boards focus on the good and, more importantly, they figure out how to tap into that good to make things better. They understand that while problems exist, it’s more productive to focus on solutions and what’s working well so we can replicate and build on it.

Not only do I enjoy my time and work for these organizations, but honestly, I need this type of engagement to keep myself focused on the positive as well.

The crowd at the 2018 Golden Gallop, a fun run fundraiser for Golden Schools Foundation. Photo by Katalin Wishart.

At no time is this more obvious to me than during the Golden Gallop—Golden Schools Foundation’s yearly 5k, 10k and fun run fundraiser. I used to participate in the event as a runner, but for the past three years, as a board member, I’ve supported the race as a volunteer. Last weekend I cleared my calendar to help with event prep—packet pickup, set-up, tear-down and anything in between. The Gallop always recharges my volunteer batteries because it is the epitome of a community event. It welcomes runners ages 2 to 102. Some runners are extremely competitive (no, I’m not just talking about the 2-year-olds) while others are there to have fun—they bring their coffee and walk the course with friends.

Parents and children of all ages and from all Golden schools volunteer, run or both! Some of our most amazing volunteers have children way too young for public school, some have children who are already grown up, and some have no children at all. We even get volunteers from Colorado School of Mines—both faculty and students wake up early to lend a hand. Local vendors sponsor the race or donate post- race treats. The mayor comes every year to welcome racers. This year’s entertainment included a children’s dance line and a “heavy metal” band of eighth- and sixth-graders from our middle school who rocked the morning with old-school Green Day and Ozzy. It was so much fun! And it’s all to raise money to support public schools.

I’m not the only one; my JVA colleagues also love giving back by serving on the following boards and committees:

Children’s Future International

Hearts ’n’ Hands Work Enrichment

Social Enterprise Alliance, Colorado

Federal Boulevard Improvement District

Kids Aid: The Backpack Program

Foster Alumni Mentors (FAM)

Sustainable Food Policy Council

(Elementary School) Health and Wellness Committee

(Elementary School) Advanced Learning Plan/Enrichment Committee

(Elementary School) Community Garden Committee

Young Nonprofit Professionals Network Professional Development Committee

Women’s Foundation of Colorado Empowerment Council

Colorado Workforce Development Council’s State Youth Council

City of Golden Public Art Commission

When I see my community coming together in such a positive way, I can’t imagine why I wouldn’t want to be involved, why I wouldn’t want to tap into that energy and enthusiasm. Serving on a board definitely takes some commitment, but I really feel like I get back so much more than I give. If you’re on the fence about joining a board, hop off and do it. Nonprofits and other community and government organizations are ALWAYS looking for people who want to help!

Check out more blogs by Kat!