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Hidden Benefits of Volunteering
By John Nowicki, EAA 116894, Volunteer Advisory Committee Member
June 30, 2020 – In past Volunteer Newsletter articles, Sport Aviation articles, and Campfire Chats during convention, the reasons we volunteer is always a main topic of discussion. You think you have heard them all but someone always has a new one. They are all great.
We always discuss the pride one feels when volunteering, before, during and after the big show. When you see something you have personally made, set up, cleaned up, or even planted, there is really nothing better than that feeling when you get to tell someone, "See all that snow fence? We put that up during a work party weekend," or, "Our chapter scraped and painted all those green garbage cans you see on the grounds." (I guess I'm dating myself here.) The list goes on and on about all the volunteer effort that goes into putting on such an event. The feeling of pride and even a little ownership never goes away."
So, let's talk about some other benefits of volunteering, benefits you really don't realize you're getting. In fact you don't even think about them until well after convention is gone, or when one of your friends or family asks you to help them tackle a project. What could these benefits possibly be? It's the knowledge and experience you gain from something you may never have done before but were given the opportunity to do or try. Here is just a short list:
- Heavy equipment operation
- Metal fabrication
- Public speaking
- Chairperson for one of the many groups
The list can go on forever. You couldn't find a facility or pay to get the experience doing some of the things we do at AirVenture.
A good friend of our family who is no longer with us was an architect. He always said how great it was to come up and do something he didn't get the chance to do in his everyday life. He was able to get a different perspective of what the carpenters had to deal with when building someone's design.
My son has been volunteering at work party weekends since he was 11 years old, and at the convention since he was 5. It's where he learned how to drive a stick shift. He learned how to deal with the public by working at Camp Scholler and the assistance center. He even got married in the Eagle Hangar.
My daughter is a music teacher and a member of a polka band that performs at small venues during Oktoberfest season. She was asked to sing The Star-Spangled Banner at one of the daily air shows at AirVenture 2016 in front of about 85,000 spectators. (Talk about a proud dad!)
I worked with a first-time volunteer in the fab shop one year, welding aluminum sign posts during a work party weekend. The gentleman had never welded anything before. I was able to pass my knowledge of welding on to him.
As I said earlier, the list can go on and on. The benefits are never ending and will stay with you always. You get to be part of one of the greatest aviation events in the world, you give back a little bit of what you have received, and you gained knowledge and the experience of something new.
So, the next time you think about volunteering, think outside the box and outside your comfort zone, and remember the hidden benefits.