Volunteerism: Servant Leadership at its Finest

Spring is often a time of renewal. A second chance at those New Year’s Resolutions that we forgot once February rolled around. During your own reflections, have you thought about taking on a new leadership challenge? Have you thought about using your leadership skills in the community? Have you thought about volunteering?

raise-hands-volunteer-copyI know many of us may stay away from taking on such a challenge because we figure we don’t have the time. The truth is we do have the time for volunteering if it’s for something we are passionate about. What is it that you care about? When you read the news, what causes grab your attention? Is it homelessness, hunger, or education? Or, is it something broader, such as helping people improve their job development skills, or helping the less fortunate handle their finances? Or, is it something as simple as helping with a neighborhood cleanup or sharing your voice with the church choir?

Now that you’ve identified an area you’re passionate about, take a look at your skills and talents. What can you offer an organization that is servicing this population? Would you like to be a board member, or would you like something more short-term, such as serving on a fundraising committee for a gala event?

Don’t forget to do some research on the organizations that specialize in the area of your interest. There are a great number of resources available: with just the click of your mouse, you can find so much information with a simple web search. For those of you in the New Haven area, the GNH Community website, Community Foundation for Greater New Haven, and United Way of Greater New Haven are great starting points. And, just like when you do a job search, you’ll know when you see the perfect match for you.

“I was taught that the world had a lot of problems; that I could struggle and change them; that intellectual and material gifts brought the privilege and responsibility of sharing with others less fortunate; and that service is the rent each of us pays for living, the very purpose of life and not something you do in your spare time or after you have reached your personal goals.”

Marian Wright Edelman

volunteer workI am a lover of quotes. And anyone who studies or teaches in the field of organizational leadership will find that we’re not lacking for quotes that can fit the lesson you’re trying to teach, or the sector that you work in. The Marion Wright Edelman quote above is one of my favorites when I talk about community leadership and volunteering. As leaders we do have the privilege and responsibility to share our talents with others less fortunate.

There are thousands of non-profits and religious organizations in the State of Connecticut which could use your help. Be it for something as simple as a few hours over the course of one day, or a longer-term commitment. They can use your skills and talents. Help be that change.


Patti Scussel is vice president of community and business development for Start Bank in New Haven. Previously, she had served as executive director of the Greater New Haven Leadership Center at the Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce, as well as executive director of the programs of the New Haven Network for Public Education. She has more than 20 years management experience the fields of publishing, marketing, events, and communications. Patti received her undergraduate degree in Communications from Albertus Magnus College, and received her MBA from the University of New Haven. She is an active volunteer and has served on numerous boards and committees. Patti has won several awards in recognition of her community service. She has been teaching in the Master’s in Leadership Program at Albertus since 2007. Patti teaches Moral Leadership (grad and undergrad), Leadership in Theory and Practice, Team Building, and Case Studies in Community Leadership.

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