Volunteering is a mindset, one that puts service to others front and center in one’s personal development. Winston Churchill said, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” There are many other quotes which speak to such a dynamic.
When we volunteer, we are making investment of our time, energy, expertise, and/or just their our sheer enthusiasm. The return on that investment is truly immeasurable because the impact is one that can continue long after that volunteer effort. (Hopefully the effort is not a one-off but rather a relationship built between the individual and the organization being helped)
Sports is defined by service, service to teammates, coaches, and fans. Sports teams and individuals bring people together, often in huge numbers. Volunteer efforts also bring like-minded people together, maybe not in numbers as large as sports events, but possibly with equal passion. Using sports to help drive awareness of and interest in volunteerism seems to be quite logical.
Taking that logic to heart, the New York Mets (the team I follow) rolled out its Teammates in the Community initiative last week. The week-long effort involved a series of diverse community outreach initiatives in Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn. Service efforts were focused on environmental preservation efforts, community garden beautification and animal rescue. The week culminated in a Service Day at Citi Field on June 27, celebrating the dozens of volunteers the team worked with throughout the week.
At each event during Teammates Week, Mets players and executives worked alongside local volunteers to bring attention to their selfless work and highlight their impact on the community.
We are encouraged by the mindset of the Mets and other MLB teams, e.g. the Yankees, and teams from multiple leagues who are putting a name and branding efforts behind their service initiatives. Their commitment to the community has always been there. But by adding these elements, they are able to enhance the impact of their service by encouraging their fans to join them in volunteering. And the return on investment on that? Immeasurable.