When Action Meets Compassion, Lives Change
By Michelle Ludwig, Foreign Filing Paralegal, Bayer U.S.
I often hear people say there are not enough hours in the day. In a typical 24-hour day, nearly eight of those are for sleep and another eight to 10 for work (plus drive time to and from work). Then there are household chores, errands and, if you have kids, you’re spending hours toting them around, doing homework, giving baths and finally ending the day with a bedtime story. So, when do you have time to do something for yourself, let alone, volunteer?
I recently came across an inspirational quote about volunteerism. “Discover why some of the richest people in the world are not millionaires, they are volunteers.”* What if we spent just one or two hours a week or month volunteering? I can personally attest that the “rich” feeling is indeed felt by the simple act of volunteering.
I have been a Bayer employee for almost 20 years and have spent all those years volunteering. With our volunteer program, I can track my hours and have logged more than 500+ hours per year for the past four years, earning a gold level U.S. Presidential Volunteer Service Award. I had no idea it was that many hours — I just knew I enjoyed what I was doing.
Aside from personal fulfillment, I also feel I serve as an advocate and ambassador for the company. When I am volunteering with Bayer colleagues, such as at the St. Louis Area Foodbank, the community sees a different face to our company — one that cares about our community.
Sometimes the simplest of things can have a huge positive impact on others. Volunteering offers vital help to those in need and worthwhile causes. The only thing I have to do is give my time.
While volunteering with the Greater St. Louis Honor Flight, I help veterans go through security and board the plane in the morning and help coordinate the special welcome home for their return. I am also on the community outreach committee that tells the Honor Flight story at various events. I love thanking veterans for their service and sacrifice. They always want to thank me but my thanks is when they get off the plane that night, give me a hug and tell me that aside from their wedding day or the birth of their children, this was the best day of their life. It’s those moments that make my heart soar that make me ask myself: What else can I do?
Aside from the good feeling you get from helping others, volunteering can take the focus off your own problems or at least put them in perspective. Sometimes volunteering is the best medicine you can have. It is also a great way to meet new people and strengthen your ties to the community. Do it for others, but also do it for yourself. The feeling you get is amazing.
Most of my volunteering is spent with the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and Greater St. Louis Honor Flight. I have a personal connection with MS and my husband is retired military. I also routinely volunteer with St. Louis Area Foodbank and Shriners Hospitals for Children. My parents were always helping others and, in fact, started the St. Louis Chapter of City of Hope (cancer research organization). I grew up watching them volunteer so it just felt like the thing to do.
Although only one in four people spend the time to volunteer, 25% participation rate for a corporation is a great number. There is a lot we can do to spread the word to help encourage others to volunteer. Volunteerism is highly supported at Bayer. Every employee can take up to two business days off work each year to volunteer in their community. Additionally, there is a Community Service Day where employees can give back in their communities and make a huge impact. This year, Community Service Day will take place nationwide on Friday, October 18.
So even if you feel there are not enough hours in the day, slow down and think about the huge impact one or two hours a day, week or month could have on one person or one community. Trust me, you will feel “richer” in the end.
Life is short, so do things that matter and make you happy. Make the most of your time! Volunteer.