Thursday, December 1, 2011

It Takes a Village . . . of Volunteers

Margaret Mead said, 'Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.'

One hundred years ago, a small group of safety inspectors met in a room in New York City and founded the United Society of Casualty Inspectors. This group wanted to change the conditions of workers throughout the nation.

Today, their legacy lives on through ASSE and our efforts as SH&E professionals to improve workplace safety and share the message of safety in our local communities and around the globe.

How did a handful of safety inspectors create a global impact? They reached out and networked with others. Through their knowledge and expertise, they began to influence legislators and employers. They grew their numbers through networking, and began to form chapters in 1924.

Today, ASSE has nearly 34,000 members in 151 chapters, 60 sections, 32 student sections, 17 practice specialties, 8 branches and 4 common interest groups. Each of these groups is led by member volunteers'much like our founding group 100 years ago. Our volunteers at all levels are focused on helping this great Society achieve its goals.

ASSE is strong because our members volunteer their time and share their passion to help accomplish our goals, mission and vision. Right now, chapters, sections, practice specialties and committees are looking for members willing to step up, give back and help build the future. Soon, these groups will be calling for nominations of members willing to serve in various offices and to assume leadership roles. Some will be elected positions. Others will be appointed. All are important.

Jimmy Carter said, 'Throughout my life, I've seen the difference that volunteering efforts can make in people's lives. I know the personal value of service as a local volunteer.'

I know that statement to be true. I started out serving as a chapter newsletter editor. It fit in best with the demands of my job, higher education pursuits and a young family. Over time, I moved on to serve my chapter as program chair, treasurer, secretary, president-elect, president and delegate. Along the way, I learned valuable leadership skills that have served me well throughout my career.

I urge you to answer the call to service. Or, better yet, make that call yourself. Contact your chapter president, section president or practice specialty administrator and ask how you can help. You also can visit ASSE's Leadership Connection website ( to view a list of current volunteer opportunities.

'Volunteering can be an exciting, growing, enjoyable experience,' says Harriet Naylor. 'It is truly gratifying to serve a cause, practice one's ideals, work with people, solve problems, see benefits and know one had a hand in them.'

Add excitement to your life. Take a hand in changing ASSE's future. Volunteer today.