What It Means To Be A Volunteer.
by Gene Muchanski, Editor
The Dive Industry Professional
Welcome to the July 2022 Editorial of The Dive Industry Professional. We are so fortunate to be involved in a recreation that attracts some of the most adventurous, kind, considerate, intelligent, and generous people on the planet. I have been a water sports person all my life and it has brought me great joy and appreciation. Appreciation for a healthy environment. Appreciation for our plant and animal population. And yes, appreciation for the enviro-friendly recreation businesses I deal with on a daily basis.
As a lifelong scuba diver, I know that, as a group, we are an adventurous lot. That’s a given. You have to have an adventurous streak in you, in order to put on life support equipment and enter a strange and sometimes hostile environment we know very little about. Just for the sake of exploring and learning something new. So, we are adventurous, courageous, and curious.
Scuba diving is an outdoor recreation, so we have developed an appreciation for clean air, clean water, and abundant and healthy plant and animal life. Whether I am hiking on land or exploring underwater, I get that feeling we were designed to be more than custodians of our environment. We were meant to be good stewards of all the gifts that were entrusted to us. That means, we don’t just get to enjoy and appreciate a healthy environment, we have to use our abilities and talents to create and maintain a healthy environment for all to enjoy.
Being good stewards of the earth and everything in it means that everyone has a duty and a responsibility to do their part. Since we were all born with unique talents and abilities, it means that we can volunteer our time, talent, and treasure according to our gifts. Regardless of your ability, you have something of value that can be used for the greater good.
Volunteering your time, talents and treasures is not just for a few non-profit organizations. The diving industry has many non-profit organizations that focus on a multitude of needs. We have environmental groups that work for clean water, healthy reefs, and marine life. We have organizations that work with people who have physical and emotional challenges. Some specialize in working with Veterans. A number of non-profits work with children, or specific minority groups. Some non-profits are designed to assist small businesses to help them start, grow, and succeed in their calling. The types of non-profit, charitable organizations are almost limitless. Finding an organization to volunteer your time, talent and treasures should be easy. In today’s world, the need is great, but the volunteer workers are few.
Many people don’t realize this, but becoming a volunteer is actually a part of our life cycle. In his book Start, Jon Acuff tells us that everyone goes through the same five stages in life, and the stages appear to correspond to our age groups. According to Acuff, the five stages of life are Learning, Editing, Mastering, Harvesting, and Guiding. See if any of these apply to you. In our 20’s we are focused on learning. In our 30’s we are taking what we’ve learned and refining it in order to better serve our purpose. We edit and use what works for us and we discard what doesn’t. In our 40’s we spend our time mastering our trade and really digging into the details that makes us more competitive in the workplace and in our profession. By the time we are in our 50’s we are at a point in our life where we can enjoy the fruits of our labor and reap the rewards of the hard work we’ve done in our lives. When we arrive at our 60’s, it’s time to guide the younger generation and become the mentors they need. That’s why volunteering is so important. Over your lifetime you have developed talents that other people need and can use. Hopefully you will now have the time to spare, working for a good cause.
To me, volunteering is donating your time, talent or treasures to an organization that does good work. Work that benefits people, companies, governments, or the environment. I’ve seen three types of volunteering in the diving industry and other industries as well. Some organizations recruit general volunteers to do general tasks. These organizations need bodies. Lots of them. Good examples are beach clean ups for the environment and parking or clean-up crews at the local church. The tasks are general in nature and can be on a one-time basis or on a recurring schedule. The second type of volunteering is one that uses a volunteer’s specific talent for a specific purpose. Recruiting a Medical Doctor or Dentist for a doctors without borders program is a good example. The mission of the organization is specific, and the volunteers have to be qualified and experienced to perform the work. The third type of volunteering is simply giving financial support to an organization. If you look at the non-profit industry closely, you will see why this type of volunteering is essential for building roads, bridges, schools, hospitals, and libraries. Without your financial support, many non-profits would not be able to carry on doing the work they do for their community or the world.
The diving industry needs all three types of volunteers. We need the masses for beach clean-ups and environmental projects. We need generous donations of equipment, travel accommodations, and dollars to keep these organizations solvent. But most of all, we need the education and experience of the generation of Dive Industry Professionals that came before us, to volunteer their talents and expertise to small businesses so they can start, grow and succeed in the Global Diving Business Network. Now, I want to distinguish the difference between a volunteer and an advisor with a special talent, because I have had experience as both. Volunteers get things done. Organizations ask for volunteers with various professional expertise, like law, accounting, marketing, graphic design, etc. These organizations know what they want and are looking for talent that is willing to help them on a volunteer basis. Advisors, on the other hand, lend their expertise on an as-needed basis to help an organization clarify an issue or help make a decision. An Advisor’s recommendation is not always implemented and sometimes is not even valued by the paid employees of a company. If you are asked to be an Advisor or a Volunteer, to sit on a committee that doesn’t have the authority to implement their recommendations, don’t just walk away from that situation, run. Volunteering is a two-way street. Companies must utilize and appreciate the work performed by the volunteer and the volunteer must be made to feel that the work they do is important, has meaning and is respected and appreciated by the company.
I’ll close with this suggestion for the diving industry. We need to recruit volunteers for our organizations, both non-profit and for-profit. Until we can afford to bring on a paid employee or paid consultant for a specific task, brining on volunteers to help us grow will benefit our companies greatly. Not only will it help your company, it will give Dive Industry Professionals worldwide, an opportunity to use their talents (or practice their talents) to help make a diving company better at serving its customers.
As we promote non-profit organizations of the diving industry in the pages of The Dive Industry Professional, let us think about ways we can promote and praise the volunteer work of divers and water sports people who work with us for the betterment of the industry. We look forward to writing articles about organizations and their staff who do good work for the industry as well as the non-paid volunteers who donate their time, talent and treasures to make this a better world.
For more information on being a Dive Industry Professional Volunteer, contact Gene Muchanski, Executive Director, Dive Industry Association, Inc., at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 321-914-3778.
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