Giving back is healthy for the soul! Your community non-profits and charities need your passion, leadership, and skill sets…

by | Jan 17, 2013

NFK walk downtown  Quote from this website…

One afternoon in 2005, Barbara Van Dahlen was driving through her hometown of Bethesda, MD, when her 9-year-old daughter spotted a disheveled man on the side of the road. His sign read: “Homeless Vet. Please Help.” “Gracie erupted with outrage,” says Barbara, 53. “She said, ‘Mom, this isn’t right! How can we let this happen?’ That was the spark. It pushed me to think, Well, what can I do?

The first few years of my post retirement life were pretty lonely.  Following over 35 years in an exciting upwardly mobile information technology (IT) career, I was suddenly on the sidelines with early retirement and a few health issues to overcome.  All that changed when we moved to Depoe Bay, Oregon and my focus was directed to a fledgling non-profit

We boomers have much to give following retirement.  Retirement often comes much earlier than planned.  I was at the top of my game with experience and wisdom unmatched at a relatively young age of 58.  But the IT business requires the intensity of  an athlete playing professional sports.  It is competitive, political, and down right nasty at times.  It is all about winning and greed.  I loved the part of making a difference by motivating others to succeed and win.  I liked making money too…  But all of this can come to an end instantly with corporate restructurings, making way for the younger, higher energy generation.  Age related health issues can also creep into your life without warning… 

My work with is exciting!  As vice chair my role is highly focused on the business side of making our non-profit a sustainable enterprise.  It is critical for a non-profit to show stakeholders a return on social capital.  You can’t get this done with love alone.  We needed skill sets that compare to recruiting the best executives and leaders in a highly competitive corporate setting.  As a non-profit we compete for a share of the social capital available.  To succeed we must show individual donors, fund makers, partners, and stakeholders that we will be around a long time to support the community we serve.  

Neighbors for Kids is a solid non-profit business enterprise these days.  It was not easy getting to this point in our 11 year history.  As the song, “Teach Your Children” in the above video clip depicts, it takes a village.  It also requires top professionals in the fields of social services, early childhood education, business, and leadership.  Boomers have all these wonderful qualities and often time on their hands.  You can make a difference as a volunteer almost immediately by engaging and becoming a community service leader.  Don’t sit at home and wait for the phone to ring.  Make it happen!

Steve Sparks
Reconciliation: A Son’s Story

About the author

Steve Sparks is a retired information technology sales and marketing executive with over 35 years of industry experience, including a Bachelors’ in Management from St. Mary’s College. His creative outlet is as a non-fiction author, writing about his roots as a post-WWII US Navy military child growing up in the 1950s-1960s.
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