May I help you?

With the Vancouver games underway, I have been reflecting on the 2002 Winter Olympic Games.  Those were the greatest winter games ever.  With or without the Figure Skating scandal.  Upon completion of those games, I set out to try and enlist in the Torino games.  The Vancouver games snuck up on me.  So why were they the greatest games?  Because I was a volunteer.

I had the privilege of being a French Linguist/Translator at the Medals Plaza.  Our tasks there varied from day to day.  But we got to see most of the medalists, talk to many of them, talk to dignitaries, and see some pretty good fireworks and concerts.  I thoroughly enjoyed it and would do it again and again if opportunity presented itself.  Being an Olympics Volunteer for games held in a country other than your home country can be quite pricey.  For those that are able to continue to volunteer internationally despite the cost – kudos.

Besides the Olympics, I have been pondering the act of “service.”  One can give service in many ways, and many of them for more subtle than the grandeur of the Olympics.  Some find service opportunities through religion.  Others find service through community involvement.  Still others may perform service through professional affiliations, big events, or because a judge told them to do it.

I think that giving service through community, church, or relief efforts pretty much explain themselves.  How can one give service through professional affiliations?  As a DBA, I am affiliated with PASS, SQLServerCentral (loosely), and my local Users Groups.  I don’t get paid by any of these affiliations except in the increased knowledge.  What can one do through these affiliations?

I think it first needs to be understood that none of these professional communities can function without member participation.  People throughout these communities give freely of time, talent and skills to help each other.  It’s not easy and most have other responsibilities to tend to daily.  I think I summed up how to participate quite nicely in my article about Users Group Participation.  I think the same kinds of principles apply to PASS and forum participation.  PASS is looking for volunteers currently for Summit, and I understand there are more opportunities later to volunteer at Summit to help that event run smoothly.  Forum participation can be performed at various levels.  One can “Troll” or one can actively engage in the forums for the benefit of the community.

The important thing to remember in all of these types of service, is that it is a voluntary thing.  If you give of yourself freely to help improve your community, professional community, religious community or some other community – your rewards will not be flashy but will be well worth it.

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