Happy National Volunteer Week!
As a proud implementer of volunteer programs around the world, Winrock is always happy to participate in celebrating and recognizing service. Each year at this time, we join many other organizations across the country to reflect on volunteerism — particularly around these three questions: “What’s your story? What does service mean to you? Why do you volunteer?”
Samantha Williams joined Winrock’s Volunteer Programs team two weeks ago. In her new role with us, she will be supporting volunteer activities in Asia and Africa… and thus, these questions of service and what drives someone to volunteer are in the forefront of her mind.
Here’s her story:
“Some of us are born with an inherent desire to give, but more often than not, it’s a characteristic that is learned. When I was in elementary school I vividly remember my first encounter with giving – at least it was the first encounter that I recognized as giving.
My parents had noticed that my after school program needed new toys, art supplies, sports equipment, and worst of all, board games (nobody even thought about trying to play Monopoly). My mom and dad took my younger sister and I to Toys’R’Us to help pick out the sparkly new supplies. Dolls, coloring books, basketballs, a Monopoly set with 100% of its pieces – it was a kid’s dream. We went home and stashed the items in black trash bags so that nobody could see what was in the bags.
I distinctly remember my parents telling us that we couldn’t tell anyone what we had done. But why, I asked. I would be the coolest kid in school! My name would be forever etched into the After School Care Hall of Fame. Fortunately, that day I was taught a life lesson that has never left my consciousness. We should give not because we want recognition or praise, but because it’s the right thing to do, my parents said. So, we secretly dropped off the bags of toys and the next day, I watched in silence as all of my friends reacted to the surprise with pure joy. These gifts weren’t mine and nobody knew that I had anything to do with it, and somehow I still felt good. Really good. Proud, even. Because receiving could never feel as rewarding as giving, especially when done with humility.
Ever since that day I have held on to the feeling that comes with volunteerism. After college I decided that no matter what job I took, the most important requirement would be that my work benefits others. I have been honored to work in state and federal government, a non-profit serving veterans and their families, and now Winrock International.
Winrock’s mission is one that I could not be prouder to support. For 25 years Winrock volunteers have traveled to 58 countries and completed more than 4,800 assignments. As a recruiter, my job is to find the most qualified experts to assist people all over the world in areas related to agricultural development, economic growth, the empowerment of women and youth, and so on. Although a volunteer’s work will certainly have an immediate impact on the communities they serve, the long-term effect of their visits is what makes our work so significant.
In my new role I am excited to interact with past, present, and future volunteers – all of whom share Winrock’s commitment to changing our world for the better. I’m excited to meet the wonderful people we are committed to serving. Most of all, I am excited to be a part of the next 25 years of volunteerism at Winrock.”
What’s your story?