There are many articles that discuss the importance of ‘giving back’ to the community and volunteering time for worthy causes. Sometimes it is difficult to decide which organization to become involved in; furthermore, it seems like all non-profits are constantly seeking active, productive, and involved members.

Much like others, I try to find an organization that fits my values, works with my schedule, and gives back in a meaningful way. When I was a senior in high school, I was honored as the Menomonie Optimist Club Youth of the Month. What did it mean to me at the time? It meant that I received a free breakfast for myself and my parents. It also meant that I received a beautiful plaque that is still housed in my cedar chest.

While that was over 16 years ago, it stayed with me; albeit, in the back of my mind. Last spring, I was approached by a networking contact to join the Menomonie Optimist Club. In contemplating how this was going to fit into my schedule, I began to think back to that morning when I had received my free breakfast and a wooden plaque. It meant a great deal that a local community organization believed in me as a high school senior. And, now, it means a great deal to me that the organization asked me to become part of it.

Now, as a member of the Menomonie Optimist Club, I see the area youth coming to the meetings each month and celebrating their futures. I think back to my morning at the meeting and realize that giving back has come full circle. Now, I have an opportunity to be on the contributing end of the organization and hope those students remember their mornings well into the future.

As part of the Menomonie Optimist Club, I have taken on the responsibility of the monthly newsletter. This is my area of expertise. And, that is how giving back to the community should work; you should be able to use your talents to give back in a meaningful way. There are meetings I cannot make and activities that I can’t do because of my work schedule. The newsletter – that is something I can do. And, the newsletter is e-mailed to many people beyond the organization, increasing the exposure for Feather Communications.

Giving back does come full circle. The circle may take 16 years (or longer) to complete itself. However, when it does, it will give you a gratifying feeling that cannot be taken away.