In November I officially joined the ranks of the Walt Disney Company, which has been a dream of mine for a very, very long time. I have a lot of Disney related dreams. I hope to voice a character for them in one way or another some day. I want to see all the Disney Parks. I want to run the Disney Princess 10k (and have plans to do so in 2018)! But one of the most actionable things I wanted to do with Disney was become a DisneyVoluntEAR.
Disney VoluntEARS is Disney's corporate volunteering program, where any Disney employee can sign up to participate in local events the company is involved with to help the community with a little added Disney Magic. I've wanted to be a part of the program since I found out about it when I was around 13 and resolved that when I joined the company I would work to start putting in hours with Disney VoluntEARS. In the short time I had with the company as a full-fledged employee in 2015, I put in 14 hours of service. My goal for 2016 is to put in 100 hours of service.
Last weekend, I completed my first 3 out of 100 hours. In honor of that, I thought I'd put together a blog post explaining what being a voluntEAR is like and what kind of work I do.
What kind of work do you like to do?
I like to do work with kids, especially kids who are underserved, come from difficult backgrounds, or are sick. I've done work directly with kids through groups like the Boys and Girls Club, as well as indirectly to help raise funds for groups that help children, like the Lerner Children's Pavilion at the Hospital for Special Surgery. I'm not really in a place to be able to do projects during the week, which are my work hours, so I only work on projects during the weekends, and I do things that don't require physically exerting myself for extended periods of time-- that's just not where my strength is (pun intended).
How do you find time to VoluntEAR?
The nice thing about VoluntEARing is that while I have made a commitment to myself to do 100 hours of service, I'm not committed to a long term project or schedule. VoluntEARs basically commit themselves on an event by event or project by project basis which means when I have time, I can offer it, and when I don't, I don't. My approach to VoluntEARing is that it's not taking time out from any of the important things in my life. It's one less weekend morning slept-in. It's a couple fewer hours spent on Netflix. While I know it's really easy to say that we're all at a loss for time, the honest truth is that I have very few commitments compared to other people. I have no family to take care of. I have no business to run constantly. I have no homework or exams. I don't even have any pets! It's relatively easy to find time for things that are as flexible as VoluntEARing. What makes scheduling other things in my life difficult is usually conflicts with my work schedule (I hate missing work) and/or lack of priority. VoluntEARing is really important to me and gives my a fair amount of flexibility which makes it much easier to commit to.
What does a day as a VoluntEAR typically look like?
It's always on the weekend, and usually pretty early considering I'm a sleep-til-11am-on-the-weekend kind of a person. I get up and get dressed, typically in jeans and my official Disney VoluntEARS t-shirt. I go to whatever event I'm working-- sometimes we're needed as additional logistical support and to keep eyes on kids, other times it's to help work a fundraising event doing stuff like registering guests, directing them to whats going on, and generally providing additional staffing. The engagements I work generally last 3-6 hours. Afterwards I like to take a walk, maybe grab lunch or a snack as a sweet treat for doing some good in the community!
That was my quick little Q&A on being a Disney VoluntEAR. Feel free to ask me more questions about my experience VoluntEARing on twitter, facebook, or tumblr! Follow along as I complete my 2016 goal of serving 100 hours on the hashtag #harpershundred.