Find a Cause

Rendition of FUTURE Hands On Children's Museum in Oly
Rendition of future Hands On Children's Museum in Oly

Over the past year I’ve found meaning in finding a cause.

Outside of work. 

Work is meaningful, and in fact I genuinely ENJOY work. I doubt I will ever retire–though I’m sure if you’re a bit more “experienced” in life you’re thinking “well that’s easy to say at 35 years old”, right?

Work is a real blessing, and I have always felt that way. Probably more of us feel that way now than a few years ago.

But I’ve also become convinced that work shouldn’t be our only cause. Your spirituality, of course, is important. Politics are important (side note: my blog is mostly apolitical and areligious yet it’s hard to separate fully personal beliefs from life’s experiences and ones writings). Family and friends are important. And sometimes it hardly seems time to do these things well, let alone add one more to the mix. 

This year, more  so than I have in the past ten years, I’ve concluded volunteerism is important as well. Maybe beyond important–maybe it’s our duty, or a calling as a citizen.

I think JFK during his inauguration (obviously this was pre-womb for me, so I live vicariously through reading about this) provided timeless and truthful words encouraging that Americans need be ACTIVE citizens. 

So after feeling pulled and compelled in this direction, by both desire and duty, about 18-months ago I began looking into various volunteer activities locally where I could spend consistent time working on a set of projects and initiatives that I believed in–and would help the community. So I found a cause where I thought I could make an impact, and also something in which I believed in: The Hands On Children’s Museum in Olympia (HOCM).


So for the past year I have had the privilege to work on the Board of Directors at the HOCM locally. I don’t write about this to be self-promoting in any way, if anything I’m a little embarrassed that I haven’t done more volunteering over the past ten years of my life, especially compared to the amount of time I’ve “wasted” on things way less important. Instead, I write about it because the experience has given me new insight and meaning. Beyond what I hope is a positive impact to my community and to an organization that focuses on childhood development, here are a few of the great experiences that being involved have provided. fb8490a9504a36c21

1. Perspective. When you’re consumed by work, then it seems at times that work is all that matters. When you get engaged in something else, perspective changes. And sometimes that different perspective comes back and helps out in other areas as well. 

2. Collaboration. This might strike you as odd, I get a chance to collaborate a lot at work internally and with all our field partners. Yet, I’ve never felt the same invigorating feeling of collaborating with a bunch of people on a project for which they were paid nothing. In fact, recently we were working on a marketing plan for the HOCM and the 90-minutes were among the most enjoyable I’ve had in a team dialogue. Motive, totally pure. No politics. No posturing. No ego. Just an intense desire to passionately do what was right for the HOCM, community, and the kids. Not to say these dialogues can’t and don’t happen in a work environment, but as many of you know, it’s just different when you’re doing it philanthropically versus for money. 

Marketing Committee Meeting
Marketing Committee Meeting (yes, we work at the kids chairs and tables!)






3. Fulfillment. I’m not one to suggest finding your highest fulfillment in things or activities, but I do think there’s something fulfilling about being a productive member of society. Whether you’re getting paid to do it or not. In fact, maybe we’re more productive to society when it’s unpaid. 

What about you? 

I’m curious to hear your activities and some of the projects that you participate within, locally or nationally, occasionally or often, and to hear of some of the experiences it’s provided you.

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6 Replies to “Find a Cause”

  1. Ha ha. I love you that guys work at the kid’s table. Awesome!

    My favorite was volunteering at a local elementary school. The kids have so much energy and know how to have fun doing the simplest things. I especially liked going out during lunch and running around with them. For some, it’s not often adults simply run around with them for the pure fun of it. I know the kids loved it and so did I.

  2. I have been “working” outside of the business world for many, many years and never tire of it. I have been from Canada to South America volunteering with several different organizations. Now I volunteer at the Portland Jewish Academy for first grade to eight grade. If everyone would find the time to volunteer to help worthy organizations we would truly be an organization of “Serve First” servants. There is no better feeling than that of doing something for mankind without recognition. But with the satisfaction of making this a better world for someone no matter who they are.

  3. Hi James, when I first got into the HOCM I thought my first meeting was a bit of a practical joke on the new guy–what with the little chairs, and crayons and all (joking about the crayons part)! Very cool re. the elementary school, they probably loved it and the impression I bet was lasting.

  4. This is great, Rich! I love to help at church – I’ll be teaching kindergarten Sunday school this summer. I am also scheduled to teach a life skills class to teen moms. I will teach these young moms and their mentors (a partner to them for the years they are in the program) about meal planning and cooking. The ministry is one our church supports, called Teen Mother Choices, and it helps young girls stay in school, graduate, find work and become productive members of society. They help the children too, by providing free childcare in a loving environment. I have helped this group raise money, I’ve taught life skills classes before, and brought meals to their weekly dinner and meeting. They make a huge impact on a few lives at a time. Very exciting!

  5. Hi Julie, what a great service project! And I love it that you are volunteer what seems to be regularly, good for you! Thanks for sharing.

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