December 29, 2008

Give (Back) and Ye Shall Receive

I'm back! I hope you had a very merry Christmas and happy Hanukkah. Sorry for the short hiatus, but I said I was going to unplug for a few days... I wasn't kidding. ;) Okay, so, I spent this AM and early PM volunteering (peeling + chopping veggies + packaging meals) at the West Harlem Community Kitchen, an extension of a local food bank. I decided if I was going to stay in NYC during the holidays, I should take advantage of the free time and give back to the community. Besides the obvious good karma and awesome feeling of selfless giving (particularly during this holiday time), I did it also to remind myself what it's like to be a volunteer. Our NY Int'l Latino Film Festival is so reliant upon its volunteers that, w/o them, there literally would be no festival. For those of you who have attended the festival, you definitely feel me because it's impossible to walk into any venue without having some sort of volunteer interaction. It's very easy (for me) to get caught up in the whirlwind of it all and forget how much work those 150+ volunteers are doing for us, not only during the actual event, but also during the weeks surrounding it. Would you believe some people actually use their precious vacation time to work with us? ASTOUNDING. It's actually almost overwhelming to me. I mean, I'm sorry, but it doesn't get more flattering or generous. That said, I feel strongly they have a positive experience with us. Based on our rate of return, I have to believe we're doing something right. But, you know, it's a constant, nagging concern I have: how do we continue to run this fast-growing festival efficiently and effectively, but also provide a meaningful, enjoyable takeaway for the staff and volunteers? I recognize this is Management 101, but it ain't easy and you'd be surprised how many folks in major positions of power can't manage their way out of a cardboard box. I firmly believe the downfall of many companies can be attributed to poor management. Trust me, I experienced it first-hand; it's not fun and it's not pretty. But, I learned very valuable lessons about how I want to treat others and how I want to be treated. At the very least, everyone, top to bottom, deserves respect. So, anyway, that's how I spent a good part of today and I'm scheduled to return on Friday afternoon. I feel good. You should too. So, I recommend you make doing some volunteer work an '09 resolution. I promise, you will gain as much, if not more, than what you contribute.

Side note: have you visited the new and improved Hello! As Gwen Stefani so aptly put it, "What'cha waiting for?".

~ Liz


Nikki said...

Well now I have photographic proof that I volunteered today, but you don't!

I just added Meatballs to my netflix queue :)

It was great peeling and chopping with you today!

Cinedulce said...

Hey Nikki.
Great to chop with you too! I actually told one of my friends you had never seen Meatballs. Hilarious.
Hope your party went well last night.
Happy New Year!
~ L