Briefcase: Volunteerism: The Joy of Giving
By Hon. Don Andrews, President, OCBA
Published: April, 2021
Many countries adopt causes or special interest groups to highlight and promote during a given calendar month. In the United States, we are prolific at creating “national ____________ day/ week/month” events to promote businesses, non-profits, and other interests. Although there are a good many “national _________” observances in the spring, April is one of the few months that does not have a long list of observations. Some unusual causes observed in April are Florida tomatoes, cannabis, celery, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, pecans, soft pretzels, and straw hats, among others. Some of the worthier causes observed in April include keeping America beautiful, child abuse awareness and prevention, distracted driving awareness and prevention, and prevention of cruelty to animals. These worthy causes, no doubt, deserve our attention, and it just so happens that April is National Volunteer Month.
Do you volunteer? If so, congratulations! Volunteerism is one of the most cherished of American values. You are one of the nearly 77.4 million Americans who volunteered in recent years, turning in 6.9 billion hours valued at $167 billion.
Although volunteers make all of our lives better, volunteerism also benefits the volunteer, who is typically happier, healthier, and more likely to be employed. Studies have shown that if you are unemployed and volunteer, you have a 27% better chance of finding a job.
Do you have passion about a particular problem or issue? If you feel strongly about some cause, then that is an excellent start to a pleasant volunteer experience. If you are uncertain what your passion is, then give several charities a try by volunteering on specific days throughout the year that feature volunteering. Some of the more popular upcoming events are: Earth Day on April 22; Endangered Species Day on May 21; and World Blood Donor Day on June 14. The Oklahoma Blood Institute is always in need of more blood.
Were you aware that the Oklahoma County Bar Association has a Community Service Committee? Our committee is currently focusing on environmental projects. You can participate and volunteer some of your time with events established by our Community Service Committee, which has an upcoming “litter blitz” for OKC Beautiful on Saturday, April 24. Other possible upcoming events include a “work day” on the courtyards at the Oklahoma County Courthouse.
Additionally, there are a number of worthy charitable organizations that do some amazing work in our community. It is easy to contact these organizations and inquire whether they have any volunteer opportunities. Some local recommended worthy causes include:
- Central Oklahoma Humane Society (https://okhumane.org/get-involved/volunteer);
Legal Aid of Western Oklahoma (https://www.legalaidok.org/volunteers);
Oklahoma Cleats for Kids (https://okc.cleatsforkids.org/get-involved);
Neighborhood Services Organization (https://nsookc.org/volunteer); and
- Restore OKC (https://www.restoreokc.org/volunteer).
If you are unable to volunteer your time, then you can always donate your resources to the organizations listed above, as well some others in our community, including:
- CityRescueMission (https://cityrescue.org/donate);
- Fields and Futures (https://fieldsandfutures.org/donate);
- Parent Promise OKC (https://parentpromise.org/give);
- Skyline Urban Ministries (https://www.okcskyline.org/give); and
- Upward Transitions OKC (https://upwardtransitions.kindful.com).
This list of charitable organization is, by no means, exhaustive. There are many other worthy charitable organizations throughout the Metropolitan area that are deserving of your time and resources. All you have to do is a little research on the Internet to find what works best for you.
Finally, another option is to become of member of certain organizations that are designed to benefit local charities, including Exchange Club, Kiwanis Club, Lions Club and Rotary Clubs. These organizations have chapters located throughout the Oklahoma City metropolitan area. Joining these organizations provides you with more voluntary opportunities, along with socialization with others who enjoy the gift of giving.
I am fortunate to serve on the Board of Directors for Oklahoma Cleats for Kids (C4K), an organization created ten years ago by fellow lawyers, Mark and Stacy McDaniel. Mark and Stacy, when confronted with what to do with their children’s outgrown sporting equipment (primarily shoes or cleats), cleaned-up and restored the used sporting equipment so that it could be donated to children in need. Thus, C4K was born!
Needless to say, in the short ten years of its existence, C4K has made a significant impact on youth throughout the State of Oklahoma. I can only imagine the positive impact that C4K has had on our court system. When you keep kids active in sports, they tend to do better academically and are less likely to get in trouble. This is why I serve on the Board of C4K!
I am also fortunate to be a founding member of committee of lawyers that was formed to assist the Palomar Legal Network. Palomar Legal Network, which began last year, is a coordinated network of lawyers, licensed legal interns, law school representatives and law students who provide high quality free and/or low-cost legal support services to clients of Palomar Family Justice Center. Palomar Family Justice Center, with other community partner agencies, provides a multitude of services to victims of domestic violence, child abuse, sexual assault, stalking, elder abuse and human trafficking.
As lawyers, is there not a more noble way of serving our community then by volunteering to provide free or low-costs legal services to victims of domestic violence or child abuse? This is why I continue to support the Palomar Legal Network.
There are many quality non-profit organizations throughout the Oklahoma City area. I hope you decide to volunteer soon and can experience the joy of giving your time, talents and resources. More importantly, we can all make a positive impact on our community by volunteering.