Feb 23

Building a Sense of Community through Volunteerism

by: Kevin Basden

* Mural Arts Board Member Kevin Basden, recently wrote this piece about his work with Mural Arts. It is reposted here with his permission. 

This week, I will attend an awards dinner recognizing outstanding directors in Philadelphia. One of the honorees is David Pudlin, the board chair of Mural Arts Philadelphia – a non-profit organization dedicated to public art, and a cause that I care about personally. David is the managing partner of his law firm, and has provided exemplary leadership to Mural Arts for years. His example and those of the other honorees give us an opportunity to reflect on volunteerism – why it is important, why some people “do” it but others don’t, and what it means to the business community.

Many of us have the ability to make a difference in the causes we care about. In fact, some would even say we have an obligation to support these causes. And like David and the other honorees, many of us have our own personal stories of commitment to volunteerism.

I first became involved in Mural Arts after seeing graffiti in my neighborhood. I stumbled onto Mural Arts, which I learned had started as the Anti-Graffiti Network. After connecting with the organization, I became a supporter and got involved. Through my work with Mural Arts, I learned that the artwork is a vehicle to accomplish deeper objectives, including educating young people through art. I found that this aligned with the corporate responsibility priorities of my own firm – Youth Education. Eventually, Mural Arts invited me to join its Board of Directors.

One of my favorite experiences was a recent volunteer day. A large group of us from PwC spent a day with about 150 mural arts education students, teaching them about financial literacy. In exchange, we got to help paint a mural. We learned as much from the students as they learned from us!

I couldn’t have grown into the role I have today at Mural Arts without the support and encouragement of my firm. This leads me to my point. What if I didn’t have that support? What if I wasn’t empowered to engage in volunteerism? How would that impact the causes I care about most?

As business leaders, we should realize the impact we have in enabling our colleagues to support important causes. This is especially true of millennials. A few weeks ago, one of our interns emailed me about a volunteer experience that is really important to her. She will soon work with a team of students to develop sustainable health solutions in Nicaragua. They will join families, local schools and community leaders to build in-home infrastructure projects and provide preventative health education. I was thrilled to hear this, and couldn’t be more excited to support her!

Whether we are ready or not, business leadership today should absolutely involve creating an environment or even opportunities for employees to support the causes they care about, as a way to promote the health and well being of our organizations, our people and our communities. So how are you using your own influence to make a difference? And what are you doing to empower your teams?

Last updated: Feb 28, 2017

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