2014 marks the 20th year of my involvement in the TC North Chamber. Clearly I'm having fun, because the time has flown quickly by! And at the end of 2012, I completed a 5-year stint on the Board of Directors for CPAmerica International, one of the largest associations of CPA firms in the United States. My firm, Cummings, Keegan & Co., P.L.L.P. is an independently owned and operated member firm of CPAmerica. As the first female board member for CPAmerica, it was my honor to serve on the Board. Truly it was one of the most rewarding and fulfilling volunteer opportunities I have had. After reflecting on these milestones, I started thinking about my volunteer activities, how I started, and why I do it.
After much thought, I realized that it is almost in my blood. During my childhood, my Dad was a volunteer fire fighter in Eagan for 25 years. My Mom has always done volunteer work through church as well as on the fire department auxiliary while Dad was on the department. I saw how rewarding these activities were to them from a young age and the kinds of connections they made as a result. Throughout my life, my parents continued to volunteer for school activities, brownies and girl scouts, boy scouts, etc. After we kids became adults, they found other outlets for volunteering - even while staying busy with work, aging parents and other mundane daily items.
Dad retired after 40 years of service at Northwest Airlines and immediately became involved in the Retired Union Members group from the International Association of Machinists local. At the end of 2012, at age 78, Dad finished a 7-year term on the board of this retirees group. My Mom also served on the board for several years and retired from that service in December as well.
When I volunteer, I realize that it's not just about promoting me or the firm. Although much of my recent volunteer work revolves around my professional life, I don't do it just because of that. These activities really interest me and make me feel useful and needed. I believe that staying active and engaged is very important to staying young. It amazes me that my parents are in the second half of their seventies when I look at all that they do! My Dad still skis and travels to Colorado for 3 weeks every year. They travel and organize family outings that include my brother, sisters and their families as well as extended family. Mom works as a "Lutheran Church Basement Lady" and helps organize lunches for funerals and other activities at church. And this is just a sample. All of these things keep their minds active and keep them from "sitting around getting old".
So what is the point of this blog? Simply this - I hope you can also find time to get involved in activities that you enjoy and make a contribution. If it helps you with your professional life, great. And if it better serves you in your family life, that's even better.
I believe that volunteering contributes to the "stop and smell the roses" part of life because it can be so rewarding.
If you need help figuring out where and how you can volunteer, feel free to ask your fellow chamber members, the board of directors, chamber staff, or your friends. I'm confident you won't regret it!