I have been a Vibha volunteer for close to two years now. I have always been overwhelmed with the volunteer response we get on event day. We might not see all our volunteers very often because of their conflicting schedules. But come event day and they magically show up, take up tasks and complete their responsibly to make the event a huge success. We also team up to volunteer at local events and have a great time doing that. One such recent experience was the Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon (LFM).
It started when some of us running the marathon were informed about this volunteering opportunity through the newsletter. LFM is one of the popular marathons in the Midwest and enjoys participation of over 2000 runners. They are always looking for ways to bring in more volunteers and this was their first time working with local non profits to that effect. For the charities with the team of 20 volunteers, they provided a small information booth at their expo as a return favor. The expo is a key event that hosts various vendors, who sell active wear, running gear, etc and is attended by the runners with their families and other athletes from the area. The information booth provided us much needed visibility in the local community and helped create awareness about Vibha. The expo was held on October 1st and 2nd and the marathon on the 3rd. We signed up to help with packet pick up, hospitality and finish line setup for October 2nd 2010.
Getting 20 volunteers did seem like a daunting task to begin with, especially for a non-Vibha event. But, our volunteers stepped up. In addition to the dedicated volunteers, our spirited bunch from the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee got their friends and roommates to volunteer with them. We had over 20 volunteers to help with the various tasks assigned by the LFM team captains.
A team of volunteers – Aasheeta , Aparna, Balaji, Devang, Kishore, Parag, Raj, Rajnish, Ritwick, Rohan – our youngest volunteer of age 6, Sahithi, Santhosh, Sid , Soumya and Vinay braved the brutal Milwaukee cold on the October morning to help set up the finish line. Being right by the lake, the winds made it extremely difficult to work, but our volunteers did a fantastic job as they put together the barricades and placed them to make the finish line. Meenal did a great job at the booth by talking to people and creating awareness about Vibha and the work we do locally. It was a great networking opportunity not only with the visitors but also with the other non-profit volunteers. Leena and Mandeep helped at the hospitality booth. They were the “May I Help You” people of the day. Some of us – Elizabeth, Karthik, Natalie, Ranjit, Vijay, Vishal and Mukta helped at the packet pickup. We were kept busy making the race packets and handing them out to runners. All our efforts were greatly appreciated by the organizers and the team captains. The race director told us that we were one of the most organized groups that volunteered that day.
This was an endeavor to create awareness about Vibha while assisting at a local event and was a great team building and motivation exercise. A few weeks after this event, a pleasant surprise followed. One of the organizers emailed saying that they wished to donate some money to Vibha. It so happened that there were some clowns to entertain kids at the finish line on the race day. These clowns wanted their fee to be donated to an organization benefitting children and the marathon organizers chose Vibha!! They sent us a check for $200!
The best part about this was that we made an honest effort which was recognized and rewarded. I’m very happy and proud to be a part of this enthusiastic group. Everyone is busy, but they do make some time for volunteering activities like these. We get together, and have fun while working towards a cause. Three cheers to my fellow volunteers!