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Another opportunity to volunteer – say no and disappear into the ranks. Say yes, and make several new friends who care about children, about communities, and those who are in need. Of course I said yes and I am honored to serve on the NAILBA Foundation Board beside so many great individuals who are passionate about driving forward the need to stay visible in front of the membership in order to raise even more funds the next year, the benefit.... more children’s charities around the world benefit from financial companies around the world.

My son’s non-profit, Opportunity on Deck, was selected a few years ago for a grant and with that, he was able to grow the organization from providing baseball, to soccer (the most popular program), basketball, dance, ultimate frisbee (he plays professionally so we saw this coming), and the soon-to-be released program of volleyball. Why does a program like this make a difference? In our community of Central Iowa this gives over 2000 kids, many in a socio economic state none of us would want to find ourselves in, the opportunity to be a part of a team, to learn social skills, to contribute back.

I couldn’t sit on the sideline and joined the board as president, besides, what parent gets to spend time with their young adult children many times a week. Why would I say no to this either.

While we focus on a sport, we don’t think we have high chances of producing the next sports legend. We do have an opportunity though to build up students, give hugs, high fives, healthy snacks to address hunger issues and we’re teaching them valuable skills about how to treat one another and in volunteerism by providing them with positive role models. We also let them come back and coach three years later if they stay off drugs and tell us they are trying hard in school. We are thrilled when they come back and share this and the ways they are helping to make a difference at home, how they are staying away from the drugs, and how they have been inspired to help others.

Our first visual success story came to us this spring and over tears. Jackson, one of our first participants in the initial year, came to us and said he wanted us to be among the first to know – he got into Iowa State in Engineering. This was after coming back and volunteering with us and showing other kids that doing the right thing pays off. After some tears, we couldn’t find enough words to express our pride in him. We know there will be may more success stories and we plan to be here for each and every one of them.

Thanks to NAILBA and others who provide grants, we can feed needy children and their families, while helping our community be a better place. The school principals already report less school issues and more positive interactions throughout the entire school due to our programs. Proud to be serving with NAILBA so other communities across the country can have their own success stories.

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