National Volunteer Week begins today!

My love affair with volunteering started while in high school, when a friend of mine told me she wanted to go to McDonald’s for lunch because she only got to go for Thanksgiving and Christmas (Yes, that’s right, THANKSGIVING and CHRISTMAS!). It could also have been when I had to break up a fight between two girls because one had insulted the other over her lack of the latest backpack at the start of the school year. It’s hard to pinpoint the exact moment it hit me, but I knew there was something more I should be doing than watching as the world’s unjustness played out in front of my teenage eyes.

Friends and family were never particularly excited about the idea; they couldn’t understand why I would wake up at 7am on a Sunday or travel to obscure countries for weeks at a time with Habitat for Humanity. Some of my friends still just don’t get it! The way I look at it, just as other people have their hobbies, volunteering is mine. I always have a great time volunteering and for me the reward I feel afterwards far outweighs a night of little sleep.

Please don’t get me wrong. I am no saint, and far from holy, but I’ve come to the realization that we can all complain about how messed up certain situations are. However, it’s a shame to waste time and skills on complaining instead of helping to figure out a solution. I choose to be part of the solution even if the only way I can help is by spending two hours of my Sunday at a homeless shelter. The goal is simple: help someone. If there’s even a chance that I can inspire one person to pay it forward, to realize that he or she can do something to help out, that’s what I’d call a success.

Today, April 6th, marks the beginning of National Volunteer Week. For those of you wondering what this is, the first National Volunteer Week was created in 1974 by President Nixon as a way to inspire, recognize and encourage people to engage in their communities. It’s about demonstrating to others that by working together, we have the dedication necessary to meet our challenges and accomplish our goals. This year will mark the 40th anniversary of National Volunteer Week.

The beauty of volunteerism is that there are many different ways to do it. Furthermore, technological advances in the past decade have made it possible to volunteer even from the comfort of your own home.  One can virtually tutor or mentor a student/young adult without ever having to leave their living room.

Some people prefer the more traditional type of volunteering when all they have to give is one day and they use it either cleaning up a local park or serving food at a local soup kitchen. Regardless of the type of volunteering you choose to do, all these acts deserve to be commended.

SAP encourages their employees to engage in meaningful volunteer activities ranging from traditional to skills based. Our efforts are not limited to Month of Service, but rather we feature ongoing opportunities year round to suit everyone’s interests and preferences.

Opportunities to volunteer next week include:

·         April 8th:NFTE Boston Business Plan Coaching

·         April 9th:Junior Achievement Job Shadow Day in South SF

·         April 11th:KIPP Job Shadow Day -Dublin Campus

·         April 12th:SAP at Mountain View Bike Exchange

·         April 12th:New York Cares Spring Volunteer Day

·         April 12th-April 13th: Tech Museum Tech Challenge at San Jose

So as we look to the coming week, let’s recognize those who give themselves to help others. Let’s motivate others to join the effort. And let’s stay focused on how volunteerism can continue to evolve to bring maximum value to our communities. To view all upcoming opportunities please click here. (Please note access to this link is only available to SAP Americas employees) How will you give back this week?

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4 Comments

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  1. Fred Verheul

    Hi Maria,

    It’s good to see some attention drawn to a good cause like volunteering, especially from a company as large as SAP.

    Could you please check the link to http://sap.benevity.org though? It doesn’t work for me. Is it an internal SAP-employee thing? Thanks!

    Best of luck this week. From your story above I’m quite sure you’ll contribute significantly, and I hope this blog post can convince others to join you!

    Cheers, Fred

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    1. Maria Nicolaou Post author

      Hi Fred-

      The link should take you to SAP’s Social Action Platform site for North America which list all our upcoming volunteer opportunities. You should be apply to sign on using SSO as long as you have an i-number. Unfortunately it is not available to employees outside of North America.

      I see from your profile that you live in the Netherlands. I am a graduate of Maastricht University and I’ve been missing the Netherlands ever since I finished school!

      Thank you for the support!

      -Maria

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  2. Gretchen Lindquist

    Maria,

    I have volunteered with SAP on several CSR initiatives, so I was excited to see your link above to information about more volunteer opportunities. Unfortunately my access was denied, which leads me to suspect that it may be for SAP employees only. If that is the case, a warning in your post would be helpful to the 90+% of us (?) SCN members who are not SAP employees.

    If that is not the case, can you suggest who I should contact about my problem accessing that site?

    Thanks,

    Gretchen

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