by David Aft

Several days ago, I opened a copy of the Dalton Daily Citizen and was greeted by a picture of Dalton residents Charlie Miller and Burt Wingfield. The headline of the accompanying article read “Churches Join Forces to Help Local Woman”. The story detailed the work of the Dalton First United Methodist’s men’s mission and their work with a recent roofing repair project.

The fact that the “United Methodist Men,” as they often refer to themselves, were making a difference wasn’t a surprise, as they are an active and wonderful group of parishioners who consistently help those in need. The notable aspect of this article was that it reminded me that Charlie Miller was still active with this organization after many years of involvement. Miller, who has been active in many local charities including the Community Foundation and the United Way was still engaged in the humanitarian efforts of the First Methodist church over twenty years after agreeing to get involved.

While Miller has been an active volunteer with many organizations and causes, his lengthy tenure with the United Methodist Men provides a great example of a good fit between volunteer and organization.

We all get involved in projects—some big, some small. Some are terms on boards of directors or serving as host parents for Rotary International exchange students visiting from abroad. While many of these activities are rewarding, they may not be a gateway to a twenty-year commitment. Sometimes, the fit isn’t right. This can happen for a number of reasons and I’ll have to devote a different blog post to that. Some volunteers walk away from these imperfect experiences with little interest in finding a new one.

You may need to try a few different projects or committee positions before you find one that fits. The key, as with most things, is to not walk away if your first experience is less than satisfying, but to keep trying new experiences. If you do your homework, work hard to understand your own needs and motivations and remain open to new opportunities, I am confident you will find that “perfect fit”.

I know Charlie has enjoyed his work with many local charities, but his long-term affiliation with the United Methodist Men will stand as testament to the fact that it may take a few tries, but like Charlie, you, too will eventually find a satisfying and rewarding experience that sings to your soul.

David Aft is the president of the Community Foundation of Northwest Georgia. He has worked in the nonprofit field for over twenty-five years and is a recognized resource and noted speaker on charitable enterprise, civics, fundraising strategy and community development.