Alpha Phi Alpha Developing Future Leaders

I had the honor this past weekend of attending the Alpha Phi Alpha Eastern Region Leadership Development Institute’s Ecumenical and Awards Program. The program is designed to equip young African American males, ages 15 to 19, with leadership skills. This year’s theme was “Leadership: Learning, Leading and Leveraging.” The program was on the campus of Howard University, in Washington, D.C. The young men, called ambassadors, one of whom was my cousin, were from Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C. They participated …

Six Groups Honored for Reaching Out to Help Others

I had the honor of speaking at the AARP North Carolina State Office Multicultural Outreach Awards Dinner on May 21 at the historic International Civil Rights Center and Museum in Greensboro, N.C. The event celebrated the contributions of six organizations that are giving “the most” to improve the quality of life for North Carolinians. I was moved by the commitment and monumental work each of the six organizations is doing to make a difference in the lives they serve. During …

Volunteering in a Garden Brings Friendship, Peace and Beauty

Ronnie Gardstein dons her gardening gloves and pulls her pruning shears out of her gardening bag. A beautiful and overgrown pendula, or weeping hornbeam, is in her sights. She sits in the middle of the U.S. National Arboretum’s Asian Collections, eager to begin her volunteer work on a beautiful spring morning. “It’s an honor,” says Gardstein, 64, as she snips a wayward branch, referring to the privilege of spending one morning a week at the Arboretum’s 446 acres of cultivated …

9 Life Lessons From My 90-Year-OId Friend

I met Arthur six years ago, thanks to an online ad. A community-based nonprofit called DOROT — meaning “generations” in Hebrew — was looking for volunteers to visit older New Yorkers, many of whom couldn’t easily leave their homes. The commitment was once a week for an hour. Knowing how much my Pop Pop loved (and needed) company, I signed on. Little did I know that the decision would change my life. DOROT paired me with Arthur, and we hit …

Celebrate 62 Million Strong During National Volunteer Week

Every month, I learn about a new holiday or commemorative date to raise awareness.  From the sublime to the ridiculous, there are 30 such commemorations in April, including Vitamin C Day and Wear Your Pajamas to Work Day. While there’s a lot to celebrate about taking your vitamins — and taking business casual to the next level — there is one event in particular this month that I believe deserves our attention and support. This week marks National Volunteer Week …

A Tutoring Adventure With AARP Experience Corps

Beth Dugan, 58, loved volunteering at her kids’ elementary school. Now that her kids are adults she wanted to help out in a classroom again. A friend pointed her to AARP Experience Corps, a program of the AARP Foundation that tutors and mentors more than 20,000 kids in disadvantaged schools in 23 cities across the country. Dugan liked the structure, the 25 hours of pre-service and ongoing training and especially the kids. “I have grown very fond of the children,” …