Over 30 volunteers arrived at NCI’s new training center in Cypress, CA, early last Saturday morning. In addition to their willingness to give of their time, skills and professionalism, they brought a spirit of commitment, enthusiasm and contribution that was rare but typical of the HVAC industry. This delightful event begged the question what caused these guys and gals give up their Saturday?

I doubt if it was the sheer delight of ripping out a trashed duct system and building a new one. Most of these guys do this every week. It took ten men to push and pull 90 feet of 000 wire through a tight conduit. It was a great teambuilding event, but probably not worth a chunk of their weekend.

Framing, finishing, sheetrock, painting and organizing the warehouse wasn’t all that exciting either. But, it was a grand event made rich and rewarding by people united in a common cause that made the day one to remember.

Benefits of Volunteering

The pace of our lives and the current economic recovery mode leaves little time to work and not get paid for it. Decades ago, taking time to give to others without financial reward was far more common than it is today.

Sure, we gain income when we charge for everything we do for others, and there’s nothing wrong with being paid for what we provide for others. But what do we lose by not giving a little of our time away with no expectation of payment now and then?

From observations made at last Saturday’s event, it appeared the rewards for volunteering were quite immediate. First was the camaraderie. People that volunteered were united, relaxed and electrified by being together. (No electrical mishaps implied.) There was an environment of hard work, plenty of laughter, and a substantial volume of story-telling. This feeling of being unified in volunteering was probably the most valuable part of the day.

Second, the teaching and learning that was going on was incredible. The group was a mix on the masters and novices and the interaction proved to be delightful for all involved. New skills were learned and shared at the same time in an open and free environment.

Third, natural leaders stepped to the front. Under extreme conditions, individuals jumped in and took control over numerous projects and displayed spontaneous leadership that could not be planned. It was delightful to see. Everyone recognized these leaders and appreciated their contribution.

Forth, each individual became a valued part of the team. Each participant that lent a hand was immediately appreciated and encouraged. In the volunteering environment there was little room for exclusion, criticism or complaining. Everyone was on a team and everyone won.

The Gift

The last benefit was the gift NCI received at the gracious hands of those who showed up to push the cause forward. Receiving so much from so many just because they cared was an incredibly humbling experience.

While the gifts of equipment and materials are appreciated, there is no substitute for the gift of time that others choose to give on your behalf. To list the names of all those who gave so much runs the risk of forgetting the one, but a heart-felt “thank you” to all those that participated is genuine expression of our appreciation.

The day left each participant sure that he or she is associated with some of the best people around; those committing their lives to serving others through their work in the HVAC industry. I’m grateful to be counted among them. From this day I learned an old saying to be true, “A man with calloused hands is a man with a soft heart.”

Rob “Doc” Falke serves the industry as president of National Comfort Institute a training company with technical and business level membership organizations. You can contact Doc at [email protected] or call him at 800-633-7058. Go to NCI’s website at nationalcomfortinstitute.com for free information, articles and downloads.

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