Don’t Die Wondering!
That was my late Father’s life motto. Don’t die wondering “what if I had…” and it was instilled in me from childhood. The other motto was from my father’s best friend saying“Can do/Go do Good”, and together these words shaped my world.
My earliest adventures in volunteering where at the heels of my parents who instilled a strong sense that we’re all part of a larger, global community, and that if able, we have a responsibility to give back to that community in some way.
My first professional opportunity to volunteer was as a US Peace Corps Volunteer in Kinshasa, Zaire (now Democratic Republic of Congo). At the time, Zaire had a high attrition rate for foreign aid workers, but for those who made it through the first 2 years, they were hooked. Post Peace Corps I joined the US Agency for International Development as a Project Manager on an infrastructure project and stayed another 3 years. I share this photo because it was from my first official ID card in Zaire, it keeps me humble and shows my excitement going in – yes, I owned that perm! I’m even more excited now about the PULSE opportunity but luckily I’ve lost the perm (but not my sense of humor).
I was a relatively new employee to GSK when Sir Andrew Witty, then GSK CEO, made the announcement that there would be a new opportunity for GSK employees to volunteer in skills based ways with non-profit health care organizations. I put it on my radar, then later in my development plan, and then after many discussions with previous PULSE volunteers, my leadership team, and my family, I was determined to apply for the 2018 class.
The day I received my PULSE nomination it was like opening-up your first-choice college acceptance letter. I was matched to an international not for profit public health agency work as a Technical Advisor/Pulse Volunteer in Vientiane, Laos. I knew what an incredible opportunity was ahead of me, and as much I knew going in, that there will be more than I can imagine when I arrive in country. I find myself asking how will I give back, how will I be changed, what will I bring back to contribute to GSK, and remind myself to always expect the unexpected.
During our training at GSK House in London, I was amazed at the incredible 10th PULSE class I’m proud to call my PULSE family. Not only did each incoming PULSE volunteer have an amazing story to tell, we heard from previous PULSE volunteers and GSK staff that were there to help prepare us, show us the way, knowing that we’d make our way and make our mark as we moved forward. So many different people that were made one by a common mission, the desire to give back. We came in as strangers and left as part of the PULSE family.
I hope you’ll follow my journey through my blog as you make your own mark on your community and volunteer when and where you can. There’s no contribution of your time too small to make great impact on those in need.
Thank you to my My-Mother-The-Texan, Joan, who at 86 is still travelling the world and is already working on her trip to visit me. Thank you to my loving husband, Peter, who encouraged me to take this step and follow my dream.
Photo Bagan, Myanmar, Nov 2017