By Michele Pitman, Founder and CEO of intelliVOL
In 2006, my father had one wish on his Christmas list: to assist a fellow family in need. That year, my family helped the people whom my father knew had fallen on tough times, but we hadn’t had our fill of philanthropy just yet.
We wanted to keep paying it forward, so my husband, two sons, and I volunteered 100 additional hours serving our community. Inspired by the collective experience, we witnessed the optimistic impact the spirit of service had had on others and ourselves, and we wanted to do more.
Tis the season for simplified community service
As a certified project manager with over 20 years of experience, I soon noticed the lack of programs for those who wished to volunteer and knew I could apply my talents to streamline the service process and make it easier for students to get involved. Having developed communication platforms for Disney and Dr. Pepper, I noted there was no centralized hub to connect areas of interest to organizations in need and no official way to track my volunteer time.
I realized several lessons that holiday season and wanted people, especially teens during an impressionable time in their lives, to see the significance of serving. So, I decided to create a solution to make community service more accessible.
In the following years, I created an organized digital platform that allowed students to find, manage, track, and verify volunteer hours. The program, x2VOL, later became the most widely used community service platform for K-12 schools with over 50 million recorded service hours to date, a significant milestone signifying the charity of hundreds of thousands of students.
Valuable lessons in volunteerism: Gaining clarity through charity
While watching my sons volunteer their time, I recognized that serving strengthens a few soft skills that can be hard to come by, such as:
- Leadership skills,
- Organizational aptitude,
- Sense of communal pride and purpose, and
- Time-management talents.
My sons gained a profound perspective about the world through their service. By participating in projects that allowed them to experience the needs of specific populations, they became passionate about providing real-world solutions to large-scale issues.
Volunteering also offered invaluable insight that anchored their identities — which can be challenging for teens constantly confronted with new images and ideals that can impede their sense of self. Community service work gave them a center and activated their sense of purpose, propelling them further down the path to college and their future careers.
Hope for civic service beyond the holiday season
To encourage community service enthusiasm and efforts, x2VOL offers schools and students access to top service opportunities, real-time reflections and reports, and an innovative way to submit service hours for approval. The x2VOL app even allows learners to send their volunteer records to colleges through its Official Service Transcript feature — so character building and streamlining community service doesn’t skip a beat.
After the holiday season, I hope students and service leaders bring in the New Year by forming lifelong habits to lend a helping hand. If volunteers pencil in the charitable commitment, the favorable impact that follows will have a ripple effect in real-time.
About Michele Pitman
Michele Pitman is founder and CEO of intelliVOL, developers of x2VOL which is the most widely used community service and service learning platform.