Someone Should Do Something About That…
By Rachel Chaney, CPA
Someone should do something about that.
If you’re anything like me, you’ve thought this sentence many times in your life. Maybe when you noticed a grocery cart sitting in the middle of a parking lot. Or saw a GoFundMe on your social media feed. Or watched footage of a forest fire on the news.
This is a self-callout. In an increasingly busy and isolated world, I find myself thinking “Someone should do something about that” more with every passing year. Time is a finite resource for us all, and no one person can do all things. Or even have the time to commit to one thing consistently. (Again, this is a self-callout). But there is always a way we can help. A way we can do something. I am lucky to be part of a firm that invests in the community, both local and global, and encourages and empowers the individuals within it to do the same.
Within the firm, many individuals are involved in a wide array of organizations and in a variety of capacities, and for most, two factors are vitally important: passion and action.
What am I passionate about?
Freddy Robinson, a partner in the Greensboro office, has been involved with numerous organizations over the years from the Rotary Club to NCCJ (National Conference for Community and Justice), and consistently serves with two to four at any given time. He states that one factor has been constant across them all: “I never took a leadership role I wasn’t passionate about.”
This precept of Freddy’s is an important guide for us all. Sometimes, you can find that passion within your career field.
One of my passions has been helping students in straitened financial circumstances attain their accounting degree, which can be especially difficult in these pandemic disrupted times. An organization that helped me as a student was the NC CPA Foundation, so when I had the chance to join its Board of Directors in the spring of 2021, I was thrilled to be able to help the next generation of accountants break into this career.
But many times, a passion to help is completely unrelated to your career.
Mindi Mueller, a manager in the Winston-Salem office, has volunteered with the Forsyth Humane Society for almost a decade, from helping directly with the animals to organizing groups of volunteers from BRC to assist with their annual Furr Ball event. “It was always important to me to spend time with these sweet animals,” Mindi says of her early days with the Society when she worked directly with the cats and kittens admitted to the shelter. “They would come in scared, and I made it my personal mission to work with scared animals to help them relax.”
That’s all well and good, Rachel, you are perhaps thinking if you have read this far, but I’m not passionate about accounting students or animals, and I don’t know what organizations are out there I might be passionate about.
Good news: I’ve got that answer too.
“Being a part of this group has helped me learn the needs of my local community and where I can get involved,” says John Robinson, principal in the Greensboro office and participant with the Burlington Civitan Club for nearly 15 years. While the Civitan Club itself is not a charitable organization, it invites leaders of local non-profits to discuss the work they are doing with the members of the club throughout the year.
For John, this club has offered him a portal to help support charities he did not know existed before, like Peg’s PJs, a group that provides pajamas and other necessities to children temporarily displaced from their home, and Sustainable Alamance, an organization dedicated to helping break the cycle of poverty and incarceration. You may not have a Civitan Club near you, but many groups like Rotary or Kiwanis offer similar opportunities to learn about ways to invest in both your local and the global community.
What if I can’t do enough?
It’s easy to feel like nothing we do can really make a difference. Like our contribution is so small, in time or effort or money, that what’s even the point? Who will even notice?
But as Freddy correctly and succinctly puts it, “Everything counts.”
Action does not mean having to volunteer with a group every week, and it does not mean having to commit a certain percentage of your income every year to a non-profit you want to support. Over the years, Mindi has transitioned how she supports the Forsyth Humane Society to accommodate her busier life. “As you grow and evolve, you help in different ways,” she says, “There are a lot of ways to contribute! From sitting in a chair and petting cats to a simple donation of money or supplies.”
Even with a more specialized charity like the NC CPA Foundation, there are many ways to offer support without needing to commit a substantial amount of time or money. I’ve learned over the past year on the Board that every little bit helps, from helping students be aware of the scholarships to reviewing applications to giving even the smallest contribution.
In fact, action does not even necessarily mean involvement with a recognized charity. At the end of the day, we are all members of a community, and our neighbors need our help too. Doing something can be as simple as noticing when those around us could use our assistance.
If you’re anything like me, once you have found a cause you are passionate about and a way to take action, you want to really make an impact. To be a tidal wave, not a ripple. But that’s a self-defeating way for us to measure the worth of our contributions. When I interviewed John for this article, he casually re-aligned my mindset with a simple, thoughtful comment: “For me, I don’t need to know I made a big impact and touched a lot of lives. I want to be remembered for always doing what I could with what I had.”
I will never be able to fight a forest fire, and barring an incredible win of the Powerball jackpot, I’m not likely to fund the building of a hospital or library. But I can help students get through college, or donate to disaster relief, or just keep myself open and aware of the people around me and the ways they may need a helping hand.
Someone should do something about that. Maybe that someone is me. Maybe that someone is you.
If you are interested in any of the organizations mentioned in this article, please see the below links to learn more or donate:
NC CPA Foundation: https://www.ncacpa.org/about-the-nc-cpa-foundation-inc/
Forsyth Humane Society: https://forsythhumane.org/
Peg’s PJs: http://pegspjs.com/
Sustainable Alamance: http://www.sustainablealamance.org/