Why Volunteer? 

by Amy Kalar, AIA, NOMA, AIA Minnesota President

Volunteering. It can be a dreaded word because we all get asked so often to volunteer in our personal lives – whether as part of a faith community, or at our children’s school, or for our passion projects like the Animal Humane Society or a charity race. The opportunities to volunteer are endless. And it can be incredibly hard to find the time to volunteer when our lives are already so incredibly busy! 

When I start to feel that dread of volunteering requests, I always have to take a step back and ask myself: WHY do I volunteer? More often than not, the answer for me is that I want to help, make a contribution, or make a difference – and at the root of these things is kindness. I want to be kind, compassionate, and caring. When I remind myself of my personal “why,” it suddenly becomes a lot easier to say yes when opportunities arise. 

I’ve mentioned a lot of ways that many of us volunteer in our personal lives, but there are many opportunities to volunteer in our professional lives too! In my last Matrix article, I wrote about how advocacy can be a small or large act, and volunteering in other parts of our architecture community is the same! We have lots of opportunities to volunteer within AIA – large, medium, or small:

Did anything catch your eye? There is more information about these opportunities in this newsletter and on the AIA Minnesota website.

If not, I’d encourage you to consider trying something you never thought might interest you. In the past, I’ve tended to “stay in my lane” when it comes to volunteering for AIA. I’m not a residential architect, so I didn’t go to those events. But I volunteered for the Homes by Architects Tour and it was absolutely amazing! Then I wandered even further outside my lane and attended a Government Affairs Committee meeting – and found it so much more than interesting – it was enthralling! I even got to go testify at a Senate Committee meeting – and here’s the kicker – It was super easy! I thought it would be intimidating and scary, but AIA staff were there to support me, provide me with talking points, and thankfully to calm my nerves too!

So, what is your “why” when it comes to volunteering? What is at the root of volunteering for you personally? I hope that you’ll consider how some of the opportunities we’ve outlined above might align with your “why” – and maybe even try something that you wouldn’t normally consider. It might surprise you just how fun and interesting – and easy! – volunteering with AIA Minnesota can be even beyond your specific area of practice.

Go wander outside your lane!

View the April 2024 edition of Matrix.