Job skills put to good use – Metro US

Job skills put to good use

It took Cindy Graves about two minutes to find Marian Lewandowski a position when he inquired about becoming a volunteer for Kids Up Front.

The international foundation works to give underprivileged children cultural and educational experience by collecting unused tickets for concerts, sporting events and plays and redistributing them to registered charities.

Since the opening of the Vancouver branch in 2004, the foundation had collected and distributed the tickets through email — a task that became increasingly cumbersome as the number of registered charities it worked with grew into the hundreds.

“Marian was a godsend,” said Graves, executive director for Kids Up Front, about Lewandowski, a retired computer buff with an IT background who helped revive a shelved technology project that allows organizations to donate and request tickets online.

“He has the passion, because he’s very much committed to our cause, and he has the experience, expertise and the talent to make him an extremely valuable member of our team.”
Lewandowski said it’s been rewarding being able to transfer the skills he acquired during his career over to his volunteer work.

“The experience to me has been fabulous,” he said. “The nice thing about the way Kids Up Front is organized is that everybody contributes based on the skills they have.”

Shirley Weir, communications director at Volunteer Vancouver, said not-for-profit organizations should keep this in mind when advertising for volunteers.

“People today are not interested in repetitive tasks like stuffing envelopes and answering phones and coming back every Thursday for the next 10 years,” she said.

“Volunteers today are interested in contributing their career skills, their expertise and knowledge, and applying it to projects that are time-specific and they can see what they’re doing is having a direct (impact) on the cause.”

Weir adds that volunteering can also be beneficial to those who are looking for jobs.

“If organizations are engaging people properly, it’s excellent experience in searching, CV preparation and resumé writing,” she said. “Volunteering does provide you with experience in all of those areas.”

In addition to working on Kids Up Front’s online ticket system, Lewandowski has also helped manage email campaigns and establish kidsender.com, a site that collects low-level donations for children in need.

Kids Up Front is aiming to have the new online ticket system up and running by April 1.