Why would someone want to work for a non-profit? Well, I wanted a chance to give something back.
A few months ago, I, and three colleagues, began a six-month volunteer assignment with the Philadelphia Education Fund (PEF) though the GSK PULSE program. All of my energy and anticipation was focused on what benefit I could give to PEF. I intended to give myself to the organization's mission in a way that would make an impact. I focused on helping PEF change or progress or grow.
My role is to help enhance the math and science offerings in the school system. With this in mind, I set up an "Explore STEM Philly," a set of activities that help enhance the education of science, technology, engineering, and math to inspire students to consider futures in those disciplines.
It takes more than PEF to make an impact, and September 28 marked the first annual gathering of PEF's corporate and individual partners. The room filled with people who support PEF's mission in various ways. Individual volunteers from math and science professions give their personal story when speaking to students about their future.
Corporations give students an opportunity to visit their offices and visualize a potential career destination for their future. Former teachers and subject experts give their knowledge and support to help tutor students directly in these subject areas. Collectively, these classroom speakers, field trip hosts, and tutors give their time to learn tools to better help students.
While the weather outside that day was gray and rainy, the energy inside was vibrant, bright, and exhilarating. The individuals showed an unending desire to inspire students and support teachers with these supplemental learning experiences Handshakes and hugs closed the session with the promise to return in the spring for an end-of-year session. Although I won't be here for the June event, I am confident that we gave PEF the foundation and roadmap for future events.
After this milestone event concluded, I paused to reflect. I noticed that in the non-profit world, giving is everywhere. GSK gives PEF valuable resources, and GSK gives its employees a rare opportunity. PULSE volunteers give knowledge and aid to PEF. PEF gives to the community. The community gives to schools and students. No one speaks of taking. Taking is secondary.
But, amidst all of this giving, I have been taking without even realizing it. I've gained new relationships and trust from my PEF colleagues. I've borrowed creative ideas on how to be innovative and execute on a vision. I've learned the power of positive thinking and attitude from the community members. I've been inspired to continue to give effort to causes I believe in. I can only hope that I give as much to each person from the community, PEF, and GSK as they have allowed me to take from them.
When I return to GSK after volunteering here at PEF, I will take back to GSK my renewed energy, creativity, and a broader community understanding. The giving will continue long after this assignment ends.