A viewpoint on volunteering from a corporate leader

Note: United Way of Greater Cleveland is highlighting exceptional volunteers in our community that have went above and beyond the call of duty to make our region a better place to live.

Jim Smith talks about National Volunteer WeekNational Volunteer Week is a way to thank those who volunteer and to build awareness for those who do not, and those who may be considering a volunteer stint. Jim Smith, a veteran at Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics and acting VP, digital transformation & customer experience, is no stranger to volunteering.

He became involved with United Way of Greater Cleveland when he moved to the Cleveland area from his post in China last summer. “When you volunteer, it’s really personal… it’s a shared experience,” Smith says. “You’re giving something back to a group of people… It’s that personal contact with the people you’re giving something back to that’s meaningful.”

Smith goes on to talk about how volunteering not only makes one feel a sense of achievement and personal self worth, it also lends itself to professional development. He says some of the ways volunteering can manifest into the workplace is through leading groups of volunteers; learning and experiencing the challenges and successes of managing those people; and the planning and teamwork required to be successful. He always encourages people on his team who manage others to go out and volunteer in the community because those experiences are uniquely valuable.

He also mentions how many studies reveal that volunteering helps you live longer, healthier and happier, all while lowering stress. Smith sees this as a particularly appealing element that for him only enhances his desire to volunteer.

“United Way makes it easier to connect organizations to the organizations in need,” he adds. “You’re [United Way] is nationwide, which for us [Saint-Gobain] is good. We can volunteer with one organization, collect the stories and work together. There’s more need in the world than there is resources and if we can all do something then we can all make a difference!”

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