The Urge to Give Back: Why Volunteering Matters

Clyde Berger

At some point in our lives, we all recognize the need to find a way to give back. For me, it came after Hurricane Katrina did such horrible damage to New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. Having been to New Orleans many times before the hurricane, and having had the opportunity to experience the people, history, culture, food and music, the urge to go help was very strong.

The first spring after the storm, I volunteered with both a local food bank and in Musicians Village with Habitat for Humanity. My little bit of help made me feel good about myself – but more importantly, it made me feel that I had helped people who clearly needed it. The appreciation from those being supported was real, profound and heartfelt.

Lessons from NOLA

The people of New Orleans have a strength of character, faith and fortitude. They battled back to some form of normalcy, and continue to work at it. I heard the stories of people who lost everything. Tears welled up in my eyes as they told me of their hardship and misfortune – but then, in typical New Orleans style, they’d say, “It’s okay, baby, I got my health, I’m rebuilding my home, I got my faith and we have you here to help us.”

Oh my goodness. The reality of hope was evident. The appreciation real and profound.

After Katrina, I promised myself that I would commit to doing more with my own volunteerism, both at home and in the cities I visit. Volunteering can take on different shapes and sizes. It’s not the magnitude of your efforts – your gifts of time, energy, good will and spirit – but the intent and depth of your caring that matters most. Do what you can, when you can, and bring a smile along with you. Something that seems like only a little bit of help may make all the difference to the recipients.

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Marshalling Our Resources

At each of our last two conferences in New Orleans and Philadelphia, your DRI Foundation has hosted volunteer days for any attendees who wished to join in. We’ve had large numbers of people working with Habitat for Humanity and local food banks. This year in Atlanta, we’ll once again host a volunteer experience that will satisfy your urge to give back and help many who are in need.

Since we are a foundation whose charter includes providing help to those impacted by the very storms and outages that we design resiliency models for, we also have plans to assist before the disaster hits, with preparedness training by our committed and talented certified profes- sionals. Our goal is to work year round in many locations, providing intellectual and physical assistance to people and companies in need.

As Director of Volunteerism for the Foundation, I am in the enviable position of helping chart our course, being personally involved in the decisions to marshal our resources for the betterment of others. We feel the goals and mission we share are similarly shared by all of you, and for that we are forever appreciative.

Please think about how you may be able to help those in need in your communities and about Volunteering at DRI2015’s Volunteer Day. Feel free to reach out to me with your thoughts and ideas about volunteerism via the DRI Foundation. And most importantly, keep those in need in your hearts and deeds.

BIO: Clyde Berger has been active as a business resilience professional for more than 20 years. Currently president of his own consulting company, Imagine Continuity Enterprises, Inc., he specializes in all aspects of global enterprise resiliency management. He serves on the DRI Foundation board as Vice President and Director of Volunteerism.

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