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What Does ‘Volunteer’ Mean to You?

By John Nowicki, EAA 116894, Volunteer Advisory Committee

June 2015 - The volunteer and volunteering are closely related but yet considerably different. The volunteer is the person, and volunteering is the action. All of us began with volunteering, and very quickly became “the volunteer.” Most of us anyway. I get asked a lot by a wide variety of people, including some family members, “Why do you do it?” The answer is quite simple: “Because I can, because I want to, and because I believe in the cause.”

There are not many activities that bring so many people together like aviation and EAA. Our organization brings people together from multiple walks of life, multiple levels of interest, and multiple levels of expertise.

That being said, I have heard many people say, “What could I do?” “How could I help?” “I don’t fly,” “I can’t fly anymore,” or “I don’t build.” And I have another simple answer: There is something here for everyone.

Whether it’s the airplanes, the exchange of knowledge, information and technology, or just wanting to interact with people, there are opportunities to volunteer even if you can’t make it up to Oshkosh for AirVenture. Just because you can’t make it, doesn’t mean you can’t help. The photos included with this article illustrate this point; some of our chapter members can’t make it up to AirVenture anymore. Some come up for only a few days, and some only for a day.

When KidVenture Co-chairman Jim White asked for help preparing some pilot wings for name badges for the kids, our chapter members sprung to action. Call them “behind-the-scenes volunteers” or “virtual volunteers.” We all got together at one of our chapter meetings and knocked out about 150 sets of wings. The people in the photos are made up of aircraft builders, mechanics, pilots, and aviation enthusiasts. Five of the volunteers do not build or fly. They like being part of something grand.

After discussing this with my wife, Susan, the other day, she came up with some appropriate quotations I’d like to share with all of you, maybe provide some food for thought:

  • “The broadest, and maybe the most meaningful definition of volunteering: Doing more than you have to because you want to, in a cause you consider good.”—Ivan Scheier
  • “Those who can, do. Those who can do more, volunteer.—Unknown
  • “Nobody can do everything, but everyone can do something.”—Unknown
  • “If you think you are too small to be effective, you have never been in bed with a mosquito.”—Betty Reese
  • “We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future.—Franklin D. Roosevelt
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