November 02

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Change Begins With Just One Person

I have long been a believer that volunteering is the secret weapon of happy people, myself included. I feel a strong deep passion to give back. Growing up, several members of my family were missionaries.

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I have consistently done mission work myself, often including my husband and children. This has included traveling abroad in Haiti. Going here was a transforming experience for me and my son, Patrick.

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My family stay active in volunteering in our home community. It doesn’t have to be large. One can make cookies for children in the hospital, pick up trash or serve a meal at a soup kitchen.

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For me, I am not only giving back to the community but improving my life as well.

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I love making new lifelong friends, while improving the lives of others.

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You could work at an animal shelter, build homes, develop young boys as a den leader or work mentoring teens.

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This year, I sat on an Open Table that helped to get a mother and her children out of poverty. This is a wonderful national program that is always needing volunteers.

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In writing my Pulse application, I created my mission statement. It simply was, ‘Change can begin with just one person. That person could be me.’ And reflecting on Volunteer Awareness Week, I realize each one of us are accomplishing sustainable change in many ways.

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A research report conducted by a Washington D.C.-based corporation for National and Community Service recently revealed that charitable work could literally make the heart grow stronger. Specifically, these benefits were noted, “Individuals with coronary artery disease who participate in volunteer activities after suffering a heart attack report a reduction in despair and depression, and that, in turn, drives down mortality and adds years to your life. It’s also true that those who volunteer have fewer incidents of heart disease in the first place.” So gather up your friends and volunteer together!

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The most amazing thing is that these benefits don’t require devoting huge chunks of time to doing good activities. You can achieve results by volunteering just one hundred hours per year. This translates into two hours a week. Who’s with me?

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For me, everybody wins by giving back. That was the message I wanted to convey during my five events for Volunteer Awareness Week. What does volunteering do?

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· It helps you make new friends and contacts
· It increases your social and relationship skills
· It increases self-confidence
· It combats health issues
· It helps you stay physically healthy
· It can provide career experience
· It can teach you valuable job skills
· It brings fun and fulfilment to your life.

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Volunteer Awareness Week was in full swing here in the Philippines. With each event I did, the goal was to foster the spirit of volunteering within each person.

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The Pulse program is fantastic. I wish everyone could do such an assignment, but realistically, only a few will. However, everyone can find a couple hours a week to do something, right?

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The week kicked off presenting to the GSK Leadership Team. Many were not aware of the Pulse Program. Thankfully, our Pulse Impact Report opened their eyes to the power such an experience offers. It is my hope that a 2016 Pulse volunteer will come from the Philippines.

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I next visited our Save The Children regional offices. I was greatly touched by these staff, many who lost everything in the super typhoon, Haiyan. Yet, instead of feeling sorry for themselves, each one got up and looked to the future, rebuilding the beautiful communities of Tacloban and Ormoc. Blood, sweat and tears have gone into helping their community.

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I tied volunteering into a payroll giving campaign as yet another way to give back.

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The week winded down with a key luncheon at our Save National Office. I leveraged my relationship with the US Embassy to get them to attend.

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Moving forward, the two organizations can collaborate on key issues affecting children in the Philippines.

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There is power in partnering as volunteers.

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Bringing volunteer week full circle, my Consumer Healthcare Team back home got to help Save The Children. While at our national meeting, I recorded a message for everyone to hear about the Pulse program and my work with Save the Children. I also sent pictures to tell the powerful story. While this was playing, our GSK staff paired up to make blankets, teddy bears and backpacks for the children Save helps. I heard from several involved that the evening was very touching.

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Photo is courtesy of Lorie Heller

In closing, my challenge to each of you is to find two hours per week to volunteer. Perhaps, you can match your personality and interests with some type of volunteering option available. Is there something you are good at? What would you like to do? Do you want to improve your community in some way?

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Change starts with one person. That person could be you!