When the subject of community causes arises, your thoughts may be purely humanitarian and philanthropic. That is a great attitude to possess. However, even with an altruistic attitude as motivation behind community participation, the attention you receive will create other benefits for you and your practice. With that said, you must understand that there is absolutely nothing wrong or unethical with accomplishing two goals at once.
As a community service volunteer, you will meet many people from different and diverse backgrounds and experiences. Your community involvement will be a valuable learning experience that will boost your image within your community, and bring you great personal joy and satisfaction. Doors of great opportunity will open up to you.
As a Rotary Club International member, I developed great relationships with the local police and fire chiefs, several former mayors and city councilpersons, lawyers, doctors, business owners, large corporation executives and a host of other individuals. The more our relationship developed, the more I learned about their businesses. These relationships blossomed and flourished into some truly great friendships. I was invited to personally tour their plants and businesses, and doing so taught me many things in regards to manufacturing, sales and retail work. These learning experiences awakened the creative genius’ within me. I was empowered to find solutions and possible preventions for their work related injury problems. The doors opened for me to give health workshops and ergonomic recommendations, which in turn allowed me to meet the employees, many of whom became patients.
As an active member of the Chamber of Commerce, I participated on councils and worked to help the small businesses within our community. This earned me the recognition and respect of the community. My wife and children found it somewhat humorous when they would go to a store and pull out their checkbooks and the salesperson would ask, Are you the wife, son or daughter of Dr. Cavanaugh?’ This opened up even more doors of practice building opportunity for me.
In addition to the professional and effective marketing I did for my practice, I also learned to be a volunteer, a participator and a donator to my community. Over the years this resulted in my name becoming known and respected by virtually everyone in my community. You can do the same.
If you are not in a position to give much time to your community involvement, give what you can and start now. Even a little is greatly appreciated, and just one open door of opportunity could lead to substantial benefit for you and your practice. I will confess that community involvement was easy for me because my office was only about a three and a half minute drive from my office. I worked there, I played there and I served there. It was all part of my original strategy when I decided to open my practice in that particular town. It is the same strategy that we suggest to new doctors.
Most service clubs, whether you belong to them or not, provide many volunteer opportunities throughout the year. The following is a small list of some of those opportunities:
Aid in soup kitchens during special times of the year (Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc.)
Participate in literacy efforts at local libraries
Bell ringing for donations in conjunction with the Salvation Army during Christmas
Tree of Warmth during Christmas by asking for clothing and food donations to be distributed to the needy
Phone-a-thons for the local hospitals to raise money for charity
Mentor high school students in business and leadership
Organize golf or other sporting events for community causes
Organize speech contests in local schools on important issues
Assist with reading programs for elementary students
Participate in clothing or food drives
Make emergency kits for people in war torn countries
Collect blankets for the homeless
Deliver meals to the elderly
The opportunities are endless. As you develop your personal mission statement and understand your role in life, I would encourage you to squeeze some time in for such activities. If you have children, it is a great teaching and bonding opportunity to unify your family and teach noble service.
Though a charitable act should be done with no want or expectation of something in return, it is like a boom-a-rang. You throw it out there and it comes back to you. Remember this - when it comes back, embrace it and show your thankfulness by sending it out again - it will always return.