Volunteering: A chance to repay your ‘debt’

I believe one person truly can make a difference in the life of another and I hope to never ignore that calling. It’s quite humbling to think of the special individuals spent countless hours mentoring me — many of whom continue to do so. Counting myself among the extremely fortunate, I’m pursuing my “dream profession” as a journalist.

I wonder where I might be without that help and encouragement from role models. Journalism professors, seasoned reporters and anchors, and news managers took me under their wing, helping me navigate decisions that will impact my future. What a blessing they have been. With faith and family as my foundation, I also credit involvement in a fraternity as one of the influences in helping me become a productive member of society.

Pi Kappa Phi has supported many of the values of my upbringing, like service before self and the golden rule. I’ve forged lifelong friendships and had a more memorable collegiate experience because of the fraternity. In a professional sense, Pi Kappa Phi taught me to how to work within a group of diverse individuals and the value in being a self-starter. I feel like I’ve become an expert in the art of leadership, consensus building, compromise, motivating a team and running a business. Seeking others’ perspectives enriches your own decision-making process.

Being named ‘Volunteer of the Year’ only motivates me to work harder to live up to this tremendous recognition.

I’ve also learned why respect and personal integrity are among the most valuable qualities one can posses. Along that journey as well, a group of generous individuals supporting my personal growth — CEOs of multi-million dollar companies, health care executives, college professors, lawmakers, ministers, attorneys, educators, and military officers.

Each of them with a desire to help students, like myself, experience learning opportunities that would lead to a more fulfilling future. Their motivation is a shared responsibility of sorts, a need to pay it forward. I feel like I could recall a time when each of my mentors or role models made mention of someone who made an impact in their life, crediting “standing on the shoulders of giants” to reach their dreams.

Since graduating from Northwestern State University in 2008, I’ve remained involved through several volunteer opportunities: chapter advisor, alumni chapter leadership, conference facilitator, and prevention education facilitator. In these various roles, I’ve had the opportunity to work directly with thousands of students, alumni, and volunteers around the country. After countless presentations on college campuses across the South, dozens of national conferences and symposiums, I continue to find volunteering quite rewarding. As the president of an alumni association and housing corporation, I’ve gained wealth of knowledge in non-profit development and real estate management. That experience certainly has application in a professional sense, but the challenges presented are a satisfying journey.

As a facilitator and advisor, I’ve been given a front row seat to witness the formative journey for countless young leaders, as well as other volunteers looking to make a difference in the lives of others.

Pi Kappa Phi has also opened a door to volunteering with The Ability Experience, the fraternity’s philanthropy. That’s how I’ve arrived at some of the most impactful lessons about the human heart. The non-profit seeks to change the lives of people with disabilities through service and awareness. Smiles and tears of happiness change the soul. Life changes when you arrive at the realization that it only takes one person to create a ripple effect in the world around you.

I don’t know that you can ever fully repay the debt incurred by benefiting from the kindness of others, but I think we’re obligated to keep trying. Along the way, I’m continuing gain a unique outlook on life from some tremendous individuals. Gaining life-long friends in the process is an added bonus.

In a short span of time, it’s simply amazing to have witnessed others conceptualize, execute, and achieve their goals. It’s my hope that investing time and talent in others is an acceptable form of re-payment.

I’m  very humbled and honored to have been named Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity’s 2014 ‘Volunteer of the Year.’

The views expressed in this blog do not necessarily reflect the views of KLTV/KTRE-TV or Raycom Media.  They are solely the opinion of the author. All content © Copyright 2014 Lane Luckie

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