Find your way on Make a Difference Day

by Ashley Kasprzak, JVA’s Vice President of Design and Innovation

Imagine a precious fall day. The sun is shining, leaves are gently blowing and you have an open afternoon. You can do chores, go on a bike ride, get a caramel apple or volunteer in your community. Since I find myself with several volunteer commitments every week, I usually wouldn’t choose the latter activity.

I must admit, though, that this Saturday will be devoid of household chores and caramel apples. It’s the fourth Saturday in October, when millions volunteer nationwide on Make a Difference Day. After my sons’ soccer games, I will be at Loveland’s 118-year-old Feed & Grain building raking leaves, sweeping floors and dusting along with 20 other people. I will proudly be wearing the Make a Difference Day T-shirt provided by United Way of Larimer County. This group in northern Colorado expects more than 4,000 people to volunteer this week at one of more than 120 projects!

In addition to physically helping to clean the Feed & Grain building, I am coordinating volunteers to work at this project. I serve on the board of directors of Novo Restoration, and one of our strategic goals is to revitalize the building following historic preservation standards. You may wonder how physical labor will help achieve that goal. Well, it is one baby step in a multiyear project involving a public/private partnership for the improvement of our entire community. Not only will the cleanup session help clean up, it will introduce new people to the building and set the stage for a successful fundraising event on November 7.

The act of volunteering in itself benefits the entire community—whether one engages in the project at the Feed & Grain or in one of the thousands of others across our country. October 24 is billed as “America’s largest day of doing good” and is sponsored by USA Weekend magazine. You can still register for a project here. Those in Colorado should check out the Web site for the United Way in your county. Local projects are listed there.

With time well-spent, your volunteer stint will likely leave you feeling satisfied. Plus, you’ll be part of a national movement championed by President Barack Obama. For those of you more motivated by Hollywood leaders, check out I Participate. Many TV shows in October are promoting volunteerism and are making it a part of their storylines. This time, there is good reason to jump on the bandwagon!

If you aren’t part of a formal effort, then simply reach out to your family and friends. My husband reminded me that this Saturday, he’ll be making a difference at his parents’ home, which desperately needs a paint job and repairs. Kudos to those quiet volunteers as well!

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