When I struck on my own in early 2005, I made a point to get more involved in volunteer work. First, I genuinely wanted to help others in some fashion. Second, I could put my writing skills to work for worthwhile causes. Over the years I have volunteered for various organizations in a number of ways. In every case I came away with a really positive feeling.
This past weekend I was again exposed to the value and power of volunteering and donating.
On Friday and Saturday night I helped out at the New Berlin Lions Club’s corn roast stand at Wisconsin State Fair. The corn roast, an annual tradition at State Fair for more than 50 years, is that club’s main fundraising effort. Proceeds are used for projects throughout the year, and also donated to the clubs that send volunteers. Some of the groups benefitting from this year’s roast include a Boy Scout troop, a pom-pon/dance squad, boys’ basketball, and the local Soap Box derby.
Though a Rotarian, I like to help out at the corn roast because it’s fun and I can support a worthy cause very easily. Heck, how much work is there in shucking corn and taking tickets? (I agree that manning the ovens on a hot, humid day can be taxing.)
Sunday afternoon I had the pleasure of attending a fundraiser for the Southeastern Wisconsin chapter of JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation). This one was held at a beautiful home in Brookfield, Wis. Don and Kate Wilson graciously opened their doors for the 60 or so folks who gathered to raise money for JDRF. In addition to touring an amazing home, guests enjoyed hors d’ oeveres, sampled wine and beer, and participated in a silent auction and raffle.
We learned from Martin Hessner, PhD, of the exciting research his team is involved in. Hessner, professor of pediatrics at the Medical College of Wisconsin and director of the Max McGee National Research Center for Juvenile Diabetes, has developed a blood test to detect the inflammatory targets indicating that beta cells are being attacked. People whose blood contains these signs are more likely to develop Type 1. And, because this process can occur over years – long before the diagnosis of Type 1 – this process gives researchers hope that one day doctors will be able to intervene early to treat and possibly cure the person.
I don’t have Type 1. But in the 7-plus years I have been on this chapter’s Outreach Committee, I have met many people touched by the disease. Those with Type 1 currently benefit from the insulin pumps and glucose monitors on the market. They literally will live years and decades longer than was the case for people diagnosed earlier in the 20th century. Dr. Hessner’s research, along with the other research conducted worldwide, offers true hope for those with diabetes.
While the food was outstanding and accommodations amazing, the highlight of the afternoon was the outpouring of support from attendees. They have first-hand experience with Type 1, and want to help JDRF find a cure.
Americans are known for being a compassionate and charitable people. You see evidence of that in the myriad walks, rides, galas, golf outings and other fundraising events.
Which organizations are you a member of? Care to share any of your volunteering experiences? Feel free to leave a comment below. And if you liked this column could you do me a favor and share it with others? Thanks!