"I have found that among its other benefits, giving liberates the soul of the giver."
What Do Penguins Have To Do With It? Your League and Philanthropy
Merriam-Webster.com defines philanthropy as "the practice of giving money and time to help make life better for other people." It's a noun, although I might argue it sometimes very much feels like a verb given the nature of my league's philanthropy. We've entered 5ks (and actually run them) because of the cause benefited by registration fees, we've knit sweaters for oil-slicked rehabbing penguins, we've given blood and have our sights set on a mud run because the proceeds support a program that exposes children to art enrichment and lifelong wellness activities after school and on vacations. We are an eclectic group of women with diverse interests and quirks, and we've got an unusual philanthropic resume to prove it. You've undoubtedly heard the sentiment you get what you give, but beyond the obvious, how does philanthropy benefit your league? Let's explore the very tangible implications of philanthropy on track performance.
On the face of it, the obvious link between the giving of time and money for humanitarian purposes and what happens on the track is the people involved. Perhaps not every player can be involved with every philanthropic effort, and that's totally acceptable given the various demands we're juggling. What you can count on is a group of dedicated, interesting women showing up to do what they can for each outing while having the backs of those women who must be elsewhere, knowing, later on, the circumstances will be reversed. Sound familiar? The long-term and specific event planning needed to fully realize philanthropy, the organization and communication skills required to figure out whom you need and where, along with assigning specific tasks, are all skills you'll use on the track...two minutes at a time. Here's a simple example involving knitting penguin sweaters (yes, seriously).
One of our skaters found an announcement, a call for sweaters, and shared it on our private communication board. Some of us knit, some were willing to learn, but we all love penguins. Our league president scheduled a "penguin knit-in" at her home to help those who knew the basics but needed some help getting started. Others just knit them up when they could. With the knitting done, some people didn't know how to sew the sides of the sweaters together. They were handed off to a teammate who did the sewing. After a celebratory photo was taken of all completed sweaters, someone else mailed them to their destination. Whew. It's exactly this ability to quickly identify the needs of the group, assign roles, and implement strategy that will make or break you as you work together. At our all league practice last night, for example, we worked on four person walls. Simple, right? When you watch people moving around the floor together, you might see that wall fall apart on the corners. Why? No one anticipated the inside skaters would need to slow down a little and the outside skaters would need to speed up a little, and if they did recognize it, no one was talking to each other. A lack of planning and communication is evident when your four person wall turns into walls of two.
The better your communication is with league mates off the track, the better it will be on the track. We're busy people. When philanthropy does come us, and we're asked to give more of ourselves, we often think we don't have any more to give...just like in those last two jams. The reciprocity between practice and philanthropy, though, can make the effort worthy. It just might benefit track performance to raise your hand the next time your philanthropy chair asks for volunteers.
Dawn of the Dead - Aroostock Roller Derb