As we begin a brand-new year (a year that comes after one of the most challenging years we have ever lived through), many of us are considering how we can give back to our communities in the months ahead. If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s to look beyond ourselves and take note of those who may need our support. Whether you are an entertainer and emcee such as I, an accountant, a homemaker, or a retiree, you have something valuable to share—your time and your heart. I started my performing career by volunteering, and it’s become a big part of who I am. That’s why I want to share with you my experience of volunteering as a performer at children’s hospitals, and seven compelling reasons why you should consider adding volunteer work to your New Year’s resolution for 2021, whether you’re an entertainer or not.
Volunteering is the Right Thing To Do Right Now
Duh, right? But it’s worth mentioning. I’m an entertainer by profession, but when I volunteer at a children’s hospital, a lot of what I do is not performance based. Sometimes I’m just there, adding some much-needed joy to a child’s day in whatever capacity I can. Sometimes I’m just hanging out, talking about Pokemon and pog collections, or giving emotional support to parents—even staff need a mood booster at times. People need a listening ear and an uplifting spirit right now, and you have the ability to bring that to them. And, with social distancing orders still in place, these visits are made easier than ever through the virtual landscape. If you have a laptop, webcam and video conferencing app, you can volunteer to put on a magic show from your kitchen, or read to a child from the comfort of your own living room. There’s so much you can do to make a positive impact within your community through volunteering.
Volunteering Gives You Perspective
Let’s be honest, things have been tough! Whether you or a loved one has been inflicted with illness, you’re out of work due to business closures, or you suffer from loneliness, you’ve felt the impact of the past months in some way. As an entertainer performing live, in-person shows, I’ve had to learn to adapt to the changes and stay positive just like everyone else. Finding ways to keep a positive perspective is more important than ever, and I’ve found that volunteering is a great way to do that! If you’re feeling sorry for yourself or overwhelmed right now, host a virtual visit for a children’s hospital and see how it changes the way you feel about the challenges you’re facing!
Volunteering Feeds Your Soul
As an entertainer and host personality, the product I sell is myself, so when someone says they aren’t happy with my show, they’re really saying they’re not happy with me. Or worse, they don’t likeME! This kind of criticism can break you down if you let it. When I volunteer at a children’s hospital, I’m not thinking about myself at all. My attention is solely on what I can do to make these children (or one child) happy and, for a while, I can forget about everything else. Where the outside world can tear you down, volunteering at a hospital builds you back up. There are a lot of empowering moments in this work.
Volunteering Gives You a Sense of Control Over Your Life
In a world that is seemingly spinning more and more out of control these days, volunteering gives us a sense of agency by doing what we can to help in our own little corner of the universe. Whether you’re a performer or not, you have the ability to bring joy to people, and even if it’s just one child that you’re bringing joy to, you are making a difference. If you’re a professional entertainer, you may well have an even greater capacity to bring levity, laughter, and lightness to people at scale, and that is something we all need more of right now.
Volunteering (Virtually) Gives You Practice Communicating
Something else we could all use more of right now is practice speaking and presenting on video calls. Before virtual shows became a necessity, I had already hosted a couple dozen free virtual shows for children’s hospitals through my non-profit organization, Win-Win Entertainment. So while many people were learning where the mute button was on Zoom, I was comfortably hosting events across various virtual conferencing programs. The practice I gained doing free virtual visits for the hospitals put me ahead of the pack! Even those who aren’t entertainers could use a little more practice using Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Webex, or Google Meet for your next work meeting, virtual birthday, or weddings (yes, many people are doing those now) that will be coming up for you this year.
Volunteering is how I started my career, and it’s something that has stuck with me ever since. In a very real sense, it’s what gave me the career and lifestyle I have today. That’s why, In addition to my comedy shows and team building events (many that turned from in-person shows to live virtual events in 2020), I developed a non-profit organization called Win-Win Entertainment, which is dedicated to matching professional entertainers with eligible, approved charities. I’ve come a long way since juggling in the kitchen for my grandmother and traveling to elderly care centers with my high school juggling club, but volunteering is something I will always be passionate about. This year is about looking beyond yourself to help others in need, so find a charity you can be passionate about and reach out to them. You’ll be happy you did!