On any given day, I feel pulled in a thousand different directions at once. I’m a mom of two young kids, an attorney at Shiel Sexton and president of the Junior League of Indianapolis (JLI). But I’ve found that no matter how much I am juggling in my personal and professional life, nothing centers me like making time to volunteer.
April is National Volunteer Month, and I think it’s important to recognize all those who volunteer in our community. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, one in four Americans regularly volunteer and on average, they spend 50 hours each year donating their time to the greater good.
As Gandhi said, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” This was true for me when I moved to Indianapolis as a young professional. I joined JLI because I was craving connections and friendship with like-minded women who enjoyed volunteering and had a passion for impacting their community.
Each year, JLI members contribute approximately 15,000 hours of service to a variety of nonprofits across our community. Through our Community Impact Project Committee, we provide organizations with trained volunteers for single-day events or projects.
We also dive in deeper, investing time and resources in longer-term collaborative projects with organizations like The Patachou Foundation, Arts for Learning and Early Learning Indiana. Over the years, JLI has sponsored 166 different projects benefitting the Indianapolis community.
Voluntarism has been a cornerstone of JLI since a group of local women established the organization 100 years ago. Founding member and first president Charlotte Scott Moxley had a goal to equip and maintain the occupational therapy department at Riley Children’s Hospital. The project was one of JLI’s major endeavors for nearly 20 years, and its members served in the roles of nurses, caregivers and fundraisers. Their care reached thousands of children, and JLI has been committed to the health and education of children and their families ever since.
Volunteers are key to JLI’s success. Our organization is different than many in the community, as all our programming is planned, staffed and entirely run by volunteers. This includes everything from our popular Holiday Mart to the grants committee that decides which nonprofits JLI will fund each year. Since 2000, JLI has awarded more than $4.9 million to local organizations.
I am so proud of how JLI gives back to the community, but I also love to see how JLI develops the potential of women. I’ve witnessed the distinct shift volunteering manifests in our members, teaching them new skills and setting them up to excel even further in other areas of their lives. When our members give time to JLI, they are investing in themselves as well as the community.
There is a saying that if you want something done, ask a busy person. This certainly applies to JLI members. More than half of our membership works outside the home, and all juggle a multitude of responsibilities. I want to extend a huge thank you to our members – JLI’s success would not be possible without the hours and knowledge they contribute each year.
As we look toward JLI’s next century of service, we are planning how we can impact the Indianapolis community in new and innovative ways. One thing I know for sure: we will do it with the help of volunteers.