The Wheel of Volunteering

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I have been volunteering with SHARE since the mid-1990s, starting in the VM project, and working my way to project manager and eventually program manager in 2006. I had my hand in the old Lotus Notes scheduling tool pretty deep, to the point where I would make updates to the sessions and cause something funky to happen. This invariable elicited an email from the then-deputy directors of conference operations, asking me “What the h… did you do?!” From that, I built a relationship with the operations folks by helping them with the Lotus Notes code and building improvements.

That was my foot in the door to conference operations. I was then appointed as deputy of conference operations when Carl Youngren retired in 2008. Three short years later, I became the director of operations when Al Williams retired. The snowball kept rolling, though! I moved to vice president of SHARE in 2012 and president in 2014. The president role is technically a four-year commitment, with the last two running the nominating committee, which I completed in August of 2018.

Now I have come full circle as deputy director of conference operations!

Some may ask, “Why would you want to do that? You’ve done that already.” And they would be right, I’ve done it. Then again, I’ve done most volunteer jobs with SHARE. Some believe once you take on the role of president, it’s time to sit back and let others do it all. Well, I’m wired a little differently. I was not ready to step back yet, and saw a need and opportunity to continue volunteering with SHARE, so I put my hand up for the role of deputy director.

Since the beginning of my involvement with SHARE, I have concluded that it is a great organization for the mainframe IT community. To keep the organization vibrant and successful, it needs volunteers. I gained so much in my career from attending SHARE events, that it was time to give something back, and I volunteered to help. Ever since my first volunteer position, I have worked with some really amazing people, and learned a plethora of skills for management of tasks and leadership of people. Once again, I gained so much from volunteering that I wanted to give back something of my time and skills to the organization, by continuing to volunteer where needed.

SHARE has evolved so much since I started attending events and volunteering. It has been pretty exciting to be part of some of the changes and success. Being a volunteer with SHARE means you get a voice to make it a better experience for everyone, whether you are wrangling sessions for your project, leading the operations team, striving to make each and every conference successful, or leading the board of directors. The SHARE volunteer force is one team and everyone has a voice to offer suggestions and the opportunity to say at any time, “I can help with that”.

It has been wonderful volunteering with SHARE and having the personal satisfaction of seeing our efforts make a positive impact for our Members and event attendees.

What are you doing to assist SHARE? Have you put your hand up to help yet? There are plenty of opportunities for new volunteers, or current volunteers that want to do something different. Maybe it is time that you said, “I can help with that,” and step in! Want to know more? Contact me any time (james.vincent@share.org) and we can talk about opportunities.

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