Kay Rial Bates: Volunteer your passion – how you can help locally

Kay Rial Bates
Kay Rial Bates

Many of us wish to make a difference in our world – not just go to work, come home, watch TV and go to bed, but do something beyond ourselves. We may search for meaning, asking the question, “Did my life really matter?”

On the other side, there are nonprofits, municipal groups, chambers of commerce and churches that make our communities better than what they would be without them.

They need talent from the areas in which they reside as they seek to make a difference at home.

Let’s pull these two groups of those wishing to make a difference in their hometown and those needing talent in communities. In other words, volunteer, meet nonprofit.

If your thoughts are stirred, you might want to consider the following:

• Volunteer your passion. In other words, what do you enjoy doing in your free time? Attend concerts? Enjoy being an armchair athlete? Love triathlons? Enjoy working around the yard or doing house projects? What periodicals do you read – the Northwest Herald, Money magazine, Crain’s or Sports Illustrated? What websites do you view – Disney,, travel or CNN?

Once you do a bit of self-analysis, it’s pretty easy to determine what drives you, and then you can apply this to an area where you might enjoy volunteering. Whatever you do, don’t volunteer for a long-haul effort just because there is a need. If you are not working your passion, you will not follow through.

With the McHenry Area Chamber of Commerce, I usually talk with people interested in volunteering for Fiesta Days, just to ascertain if this event is a good fit for them. If I sense little passion, I steer these folks in another direction.

• If this is your first time volunteering, pick an organization that has a stable financial situation along with a good community reputation. Otherwise, be committed to time, effort, skill and determination to bring this group through a tunnel.

• Understand that there are some great benefits in volunteering both personally and professionally. Did you know that volunteering is good for your business? We all have noticed celebrities identifying with nonprofits. Aligning yourself with the right nonprofit can put a different face on your organization as one that cares about its community.

Volunteering sets your company apart from the competition. On the other hand, volunteering blooms relationships, both professionally and personally. Working beside a potential client keeps your organization top of mind with those who share your commitment. On a personal level, I have seen people develop lifelong friendships working with people who share common interests.

• There is a feel-good feeling that develops as you work toward making something better just because you are involved. Our life derives purpose bigger than ourselves.

Mixers coming up include the MCIII big event Tuesday at The Snuggery and the MCII event June 19 at 31 North Banquets and Catering, celebrating TLS Veterans.

At 6 p.m. June 15, the Chamber is pleased to offer a unique joint mixer with the Crystal Lake and Richmond/Spring Grove chambers at the Woodstock Opera House. Members will connect as they enjoy goodies supplied by local restaurants. Be sure to register at using code mixandmingle.

Throughout this month, the Chamber will be hosting some lunch ’n learn events loaded with flavor. Starting Monday, Glengarry Marketing will help us gain Facebook leads.

I don’t want to miss this one. On June 20, Paradise Financial Partners will help us gain the most from our Social Security. On June 27, the Chamber will feature a health and wellness training session. All lunch ’n learns start at 11:45 a.m.

• Kay Rial Bates is president of the McHenry Area Chamber of Commerce. Reach her at 815-385-4300 or visit

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