Thanksgiving is a great time to consider ways that we can make a difference.

I was invited to speak to my daughter’s Girl Scout Junior troop yesterday to help them earn one of their badges, one requirement of which is to interview leaders in the community. Because I expect these girls will become active in the community as they move on to middle and high school, I shared with them three tips for becoming engaged — Interests, Passions, Talents —  that I’ll share with you here.

  1. Define your interests. Before you identify where you might volunteer, first answer for yourself, Why am I doing this? Is it to “give back,” is it to “make a contribution to my community,” is it to “look good on my transcripts”? Even if it’s simply for class credit, that’s ok, but know that it means you’ve got to give an “A+” effort while contributing your time. One Girl Scout shared the story of a friend who said he was going to volunteer in a hospital because his sister had spent the first weeks of her life in the NICU.
  2. Follow your passions. Do something that excites you and will make an impact on your own life, too. I’ve grown up around sports and continue to be active with our kids as they play soccer and baseball. Making a difference for their futures is important to me, and a good chunk of my volunteer time is spent supporting organizations that they participate in, or, in the case of the city, programs that impact them.
  3. Share your talents. Contribute what comes naturally to you, whether it’s art, writing, public speaking, organizing, cooking – whatever it is that you do best.

My daughter’s troop of  two dozen Long Beach fifth graders was engaging and asked interesting questions about my role in Parks and Recreation as well as my thoughts on being an American citizen (my favorite right: freedom of expression). I’m looking forward to seeing what projects they tackle as they grow in Girl Scouts and in life.