Call it a random act of kindness, an opportunity to make the world a better place, or simply a way to make a contribution to the world through actions. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what it’s called as long your volunteer work helps improve your community. This is the time of year when people are making resolutions and plans to improve themselves, but I encourage everyone to think about how they can use their professional skills and experience to improve their community.
Two years ago, my wife encouraged me to serve as a member of our town’s Energy Advisory Committee. The group’s goal was to achieve the “Green Communities” designation by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Environmental Resources, which calls for a 15% reduction of energy consumption over a five-year period. Reaching the goal would give us the chance to preserve tax dollars by redirecting energy savings into education and enhanced municipal services.
Because of my professional involvement with Sodexo, especially our work improving student well-being and achievement in school districts nationally, combined with personal interest to get involved with my community, it seemed like a perfect fit. I volunteered as chair of the committee and led a two-year collaborative process that allowed us to achieve our goal of becoming a “Green Community.” In addition, the innovation and leadership the committee demonstrated throughout the process earned us the recognition as “2012 People of the Year” by the Standard Times.
It was through this effort and others like it that I learned how behaviors can send direct and indirect ripples through our world…both positive and negative. If we hold a door for someone, offer a comforting word or perform a small (or large) act of benevolence it may cost little or nothing at all. But, the potential impact of our actions may have profound effect if they are compounded by the actions of many.
Sodexo uses its Better Tomorrow Plan as a road map to achieve goals related to sustainability and corporate social responsibility. One of the primary goals is to support local community development. Although I didn’t set out to advance The Better Tomorrow Plan when I began working on this project, I understand the importance of its goal and I am doing my part by improving the community through this committee.
This year, I challenge you to do what you can to make a difference in your own community. Giving freely of your time and talent to help make the world a better place is one of the greatest and most satisfying gifts you can give. You may just find a resolution worth sticking to.
Larry Simpson is a director of the Sodexo Education segment in Lakeville, Massachusetts.