While the government unleashes what the New York Times called its $789 billion of "fiscal firepower" in response to the nation's recession, women in Chicago last week unleashed their own firepower, in the form of a commitment to thousands of potential hours of volunteer service to area non-profits.
"I'm 67 years old and this is the worst economic climate I have seen. It's not a choice, it's absolutely necessary that women, especially those in the business world, start the movement of helping out - volunteering - when and where they can," said Sheli Z. Rosenberg, former CEO, president and vice chairwoman of Equity Group Investments, Inc., to a group of more than 300 non-profits and volunteers gathered at the Chicago Cultural Center last Wednesday night as part of WomenOnCall.org"s third annual "Meet and Match."
The "Meet and Match" brings together volunteers with professional skills and non-profits and, as if speed dating, they switch from table to table, sharing expertise and needs and making effective connections.
"Women tend to be the CEO of the household, the family. And you work full-time. It doesn't seem like there's time to do more, but that's what this is all about - making discreet commitments to share your skills in the most effective manner. A small time commitment, but a huge impact, especially when added up. Women who share their professional skills can help a non-profit make enormous progress in a very short time," much like the goal of the economic stimulus plan to restart the economy as quickly as possible.
The women who attended the WomenOnCall.org "Meet and Match" varied in age and expertise, from 20-something high school teachers and accountants to 40-something lawyers and marketing specialists, and non-profits ran the gamut from animal shelters to theater organizations. But they had one thing in common: the desire to match skills and needs and stimulate Chicago's non-profit sector, which is seeing exponential need and a dismal dearth of resources.
As the founder of WomenOnCall.org, but also as a woman who daily sees the impact effective volunteer service has on non-profits-- especially in this challenging economic time when so many are hurting, I urge all women to think about their own sets of skills and how they can use them to help a local non-profit meet its goals this year. The huge bill moving through Washington right now will put a much-needed cash flow back in to our national economy, but woman power is what is needed on the local level to get us back on track.