Volunteer engagement: What’s in it for you?

By Natalie Benamou, President-Elect 2013

In January 2010, I made a new year’s resolution to expand my personal network. I attended the HBA state of the industry program. Wow was that a great event. I saw the HBA as an organization that could not only add to my understanding of the healthcare industry, but also give me a chance to contribute and give back. I joined the HBA and was encouraged to volunteer with the membership committee. Through the new buddy program I met other women and immediately saw the value of volunteering.

Volunteer EngagementOver the following six months, my comfort with the organization grew and I joined other committees and gained new skillsets. This year, as a result of my volunteering and serving on the board, I co-founded a non-profit animal rescue. Volunteering also opened the door for a career change. During the interview for my new job, I shared the different roles I had within the HBA and was able to transfer skills creating a promotion in my career as a result. More than leadership skills, a new job and helping others, I have been truly honored to call many of the women I know through our organization great personal friends. I am forever grateful to the women of the HBA for support, guidance and encouragement.

At the closing ceremony for the mentoring program this week, Lydia Rohn, director-at-large, mentoring, sited a survey that women often don’t have advisors and mentors. Volunteering at any level offers the opportunity to meet strong, intelligent women who have common threads from career and personal lives that can be woven into a beautiful fabric. The HBA Chicago chapter can offer not only career enhancement and guidance, but personal support when you need it most.

As women, we can often feel overwhelmed by taking on a lot and trying to find life’s balance. Volunteering might be seen as something that will be added to an already overflowing list of to-dos. What I tell people when they first ask about volunteering, is that there is no pre-fixed time commitment. Volunteering is what you make of it, from one hour a month greeting people when they arrive to an event, to making thank you calls to new members. It truly is whatever suits your schedule best.

Here are some benefits of volunteering:

  • The experience is what you make of it
  • Time commitment is whatever fits within your schedule
  • Learning and honing new and existing skills can be part of a development plan
  • The HBA recognizes and appreciates the efforts of our volunteers
  • Expand your personal network, you will never regret having more friends and business colleagues
  • You will get more out of your membership if you interact with other members
  • Join the mentoring program either as a mentor or mentee and see where the journey takes you
  • Create your own personal network of advisors and mentors
  • Gain access to executive women and other people you wouldn’t otherwise meet
  • Feel good about giving back

If you are still on the fence about volunteering, think of it this way: “What area in my life do I feel I want to enhance?” Let the HBA be the link that helps fulfill that need. Reasons for volunteering vary and are personal. I hope you will find as much joy and fulfillment as I have through the volunteer experience.

For more information on volunteering, contact Diane Karija, director-at-large, volunteer engagement.

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