“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” – Winston Churchill
I learned the importance of this quote in my early high school years when I started volunteering with a local organization, Builders Beyond Borders (B3), in my hometown of Westport, CT. Started by a married couple this organization set out to help change the lives of those less fortunate living in third world countries while also impacting the lives of more than fortunate teenagers growing up in middle/upper class America. I traveled abroad with B3 for three years in high school and just last year I returned to the organization as an adult.
In my nine years removed from B3 I had begun to realize I had fallen out of touch with the importance of helping others. Making a living of my own was rewarding, but there was something missing, so I went back to my volunteering roots and inquired if there was any need for an additional adult advisor. As luck may have it, there was.
Last week I had the pleasure of traveling to El Tambo, Ecuador with thirty students and six other adult advisors to begin building a school for the indigenous children in the town. What we accomplished in one week is a direct testament to the good that still resides in our communities. Working side by side with 14-18 year olds and six other adults ranging from age 26-63 we were able to lay the foundation, and complete the walls for the first floor of what will eventually be a four-story school building. We worked side by side with local maestros to complete the work, which proved to be a difficult but rewarding task since most of us did not speak a common language. Getting back into the groove of donating my time to those less fortunate than I am, both locally and abroad, was surprisingly easy. Locally the adult advisors and high school students involved with B3 help clean up parks, community gardens, prepare food bins and Christmas presents, and work with special needs homes. This local community service culminates in a trip either in February, March or April when the students and adult advisors travel to a third world country to help construct classrooms, latrines, community centers, and much more.
At the end of each work day we would do some local exploring to learn more about the people we were helping and working with. We were able to see some Incan ruins, wild Alpaca’s, and a sacred lagoon. The experiences gained from these trips is irreplaceable and something I will treasure for the remainder of my life.
I am fortunate enough to have a manager here at SAP, Bill Robb, who understands the value and importance of doing things for others. I am able to take our one allotted day for
community service and use it toward the total of 5 days that I need to take off to participate in these trips. I am extremely grateful for his understanding and appreciation of what I do on my time off with Builders Beyond Borders and hope that there are
other managers here that share the same value. SAP makes it a priority for one month each year to give back, but I feel it’s important to give more of your time to others in need; we are trying to help the world run better aren’t we? It is with both great pride and gratitude that I work for such an exceptional company and am also fortunate enough to volunteer my time with an even more exceptional organization.