By Guest Blogger Mindy Lockard
As an etiquette consultant, I have the privilege of working with a wide range of people from the fifth-grade boy who doesn’t know how to use his fork to professionals wanting to give back to their community! Recently, I had the honor of speaking to the members of the Junior League of Portland, Oregon, to help them kick off a new year by focusing on applying manners to their mission.
The Junior League is more than ladies of leisure sipping tea in white gloves and pearls. It is an organization of women who have been actively working in the trenches of their communities, providing relief and education on behalf of the underserved for 107 years. The mission of the Junior League provides a fantastic glimpse—for everyone, not just women—of what it means to volunteer and the impact that every man, woman, or child can make on his or her community.
“The Association of Junior Leagues International Inc. (AJLI) is an organization of women committed to promoting voluntarism, developing the potential of women and improving communities through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers.”
As an etiquette consultant, I have witnessed firsthand the benefits of using manners to achieve a mission. Here are a few manners to think about as you serve or if you are thinking about getting involved:
Brag a Little! Yes, this is an etiquette consultant telling you to “flaunt your philanthropy!” Since so much of our volunteer service goes on behind the scenes, you have my permission to inform everyone what you’re up to and how much fun you’re having as a volunteer. Humbly and with good manners, tell your neighbors, friends, cousins, and the barista at Starbucks—anyone who will listen. After all, your enthusiasm is contagious, and we all need to catch a little of the giving-back bug!
Keep It Up! Let’s face it, we’ve all had days when we wake up late only to fall behind schedule or spill coffee on our best white button-down and the last thing we want to do is encourage someone else, but do your best to stay upbeat and uplift your fellow volunteers. You’ll add cheer to their day—and yours! Lend a helping hand if a fellow volunteer seems to be overloaded. Take the time to share gratitude verbally at a meeting or over the phone, and never underestimate the value of a handwritten note of thanks or acknowledgment.
Give Your All! Before you take on a volunteer position, investigate whether or not it is a good fit for you. Once you have committed, you must follow through. Don’t discount the importance of your work because a paycheck isn’t attached; the organization that you have committed to depends on your service. Show them respect by arriving on time and returning telephone calls and e-mails in a timely fashion. Speak up when you have taken on too much, and ask for help if you don’t understand.
Aside from the fact that giving back is good manners, the futures of our communities depend on us doing so! When we use our manners and abilities to improve our communities, our giving back makes a difference—and we receive far more than we give!
From Peter: Many thanks to Mindy for stepping in while I try to get rid of something that closely resembles the flu.