What you get is what you give

Sep 23, 2012 @ 12:01 am

I have never considered myself a slacker. My workday generally be-gins at 4 a.m. and is consumed mostly by — well, work. Weekends are usually reserved for chores, spending time with my family and doing my best to keep up with all the demands of day-to-day living — admittedly, with varying degrees of success.

Because I am always moving — running from here to there and taking care of this and that — I have never felt like a laggard.

That is, until I attended the sixth annual Community Leadership Awards dinner Sept. 13 in New York.

The Community Leadership Awards, which are sponsored by InvestmentNews and the Invest in Others Charitable Foundation, recognize financial advisers from brokerage firms and registered investment advisory firms who work with charitable organizations in their communities.

The awards honor advisers for their dedication to the world around them — a world that these days is all too quick to characterize anyone even remotely connected to Wall Street as inherently greedy and selfish.

Without exception, each of the finalists and honorees at the awards ceremony epitomized the very best of the financial advice business.

“This is a "we' business, not a "me' business,” William “Mack” Hull of The Capital Group LLC said in accepting the Volunteer of the Year award for founding the Heartstrings Community Foundation. “Just like charity is not for one, it's for everyone.”

The Heartstrings Community Foundation helps people with developmental disabilities find employment.

As I listened to all the stories of the finalists and honorees — how they, too, work hard and take care of their families, but somehow manage to carve out huge chunks of time to attend to the needs of others — I felt humbled and a little embarrassed by my own inattention to the call of volunteerism.

TRANSFORMATIVE

Over the years, I have muttered a million excuses not to volunteer, from not wanting to take away from time with my children to not wanting to miss an episode of “America's Top Model.”

But after listening to the honorees at this year's CLA awards dinner, I realized that volunteering is probably the one additional commitment that belongs on my plate.

Why? Because volunteering is transformative.

If there was a common theme to each of the acceptance speeches delivered by the honorees, it was that volunteering had not only changed the lives of the people they were helping but that it had changed their lives, as well.

Simply put, it made them better people.

In doing a little research on how I might answer the call of volunteering, I came across a great resource that I hope all advisers will check out. It is a website called usaservice.org, and it was recently set up by the White House to help users find volunteer opportunities in their local communities.

All I did was enter my ZIP code, and I found more than a dozen opportunities to volunteer within 15 miles of my home.

In the meantime, I want to thank this year's CLA honorees for being an inspiration — not only to me but to the financial advice industry.

A special report on the CLA honorees, who were selected from more than 250 nominations, will appear in the Oct. 8 issue of InvestmentNews.

Frederick P. Gabriel Jr. is the editor of InvestmentNews. Twitter: @fredpgabriel

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