When most people think about community service, they think that volunteering is just hours required to graduate. Community service is much more than just completing hours; community service is based on the acts performed by someone with the aim of supporting or bringing benefits to the community. I served my community service hours at The Bridge Thrift Store of Orland Park.
At the time, it seemed like there was a little value in sorting, organizing and stocking of cloths, toys and furniture but then the store director Jason shared his experience with me that how their cause support many families and children and brings smile on their faces. He helped me to understand that volunteering isn’t about me; it is about bringing joy to families who are in need and giving hope to the hopeless.
A store director Jason motivates employees and volunteers at the store by keeping positive work environment. He encourages teamwork and make sure that everyone have the required tools and knowledge to perform the assigned task appropriately. He is always available when employees need him and give them to work independently whenever possible. Jason recognizes everyone by appreciating the efforts they put into a project.
Even if someone who doesn’t do a great job, he still acknowledge them for the time and effort they put into a task. Jason always asks for the opinion from the people around him and values their opinions. Even if employees come up with not so good ideas, he acknowledges them and discusses their idea with them and explains why the idea may not work and thank them for a suggestion. That encourages them to keep coming up with ideas.
During my volunteer service hours at the store, Jason was always available to guide me and to support me whenever I asked for help. He has appreciated me for each task I performed at the store. When we were sorting donated items on the first day at store, Jason asked for my opinion on certain goods if those items can be sold or not and at what price? Based on my viewpoint, he asked me to sort certain items and we labeled a price I suggested to him.
Jason always praises his staff when they do something good and emphasize their actions. That encourages them to do more good work since they feel appreciated. He also uses “please” and “thank you” often to appreciate their hard work and contributions. He questions and acknowledgments about their family, their hobby, their weekend etc. His genuine interest causes employees to feel valued and cared about. He offers flexible work schedule whenever possible with coworkers as most of the employees and volunteers at the store are students. He helped me with volunteer hours as I’m a full time employee. I explained my need of hours to him and he offered me flexible hours that work for both of us. He has praised my service at the store and thanked me for volunteering at The Bridge Thrift Store.
Jason uses participative style leadership model at the store as he turn to his team for observations, idea and input rather than making decisions on his own. He understands that his team may have the ideas and skills that would benefit the store. As his leadership style involves entire team, he works closely with the team to focus on building rapport and relationships. Jason’s leadership style allows the team to help with decisions making and increasing the team’s involvement as whole. His trust given to his team members helps to find solutions for certain problems and also they feel empowered as their opinions are being valued and their skills being acknowledged. His staff members work with minimum or no supervision as he has already set the expectations with them and they are aware of their roles and responsibilities at the store.
Jason is emerged as an effective leader at the thrift store. He is a leader with vision working towards it with persistence and enthusiasm. He has clear convictions about what is right and wrong and is respected for being genuine, principled, ethical and consistent. He has ability to communicate clearly, concisely and tactfully which is essential leadership skill to inspire and energize staff. He drives his team forward with passion, enthusiasm, inspiration and motivation. Jason has the right level of self-confidence in the workplace. He has good listening skills and the ability to nurture the team’s aspirations, whilst keeping the business needs at the center. He also possesses excellent interpersonal communication skill. As a leader, Jason is able to identify what needed to be done and has a good sense of strategy regarding efficient implementation
I took pleasure in how much I learned at The Bridge Thrift Store. On my first day at the store, the store director Jason introduced me to other employees and briefed me the task I was assigned for the day. I sorted and organized cloths and donated items. I assisted other staff members with pre-closing checklist of the store that includes rearranging store items and cleaning of cash counter.
Second day Jason has assigned me to special project of changing floor carpet of the furniture store. We transferred furniture items into the main store and then I helped other volunteers to remove the old carpet from the floor. On the last day I assisted with transferring furniture back to the furniture store after carpeting. Later for the day, I worked in sorting and cleaning of home goods. At the end of the day, I helped Jason with closing of the store.
To conclude, volunteering at The Bridge Thrift Store has been a great experience and I hope to keep volunteering and serving more to the community. I believe that learning takes place not only in a classroom, but along the paths I have chosen to take.