A young, blonde girl in pigtails stands holding Polaroid pictures, one in each hand, waiting patiently for them to develop before handing them to her mom, and doing it again, and again, until all the photos are taken and the last boat is out on the water.
Fast forward 23 years and you see that same girl - grown up and without pigtails - still at that same C.A.S.T. for Kids event with a bit bigger job. That girl is me, Jessica Kelly, and I was taught at a young age the power to volunteering.
I learned that giving of myself, my time and energy, to make happy days for others - is so rewarding that I seek it out over and over.
Today, my role with the C.A.S.T. Foundation has grown from an event volunteer to a part time employee at the national headquarters in my hometown, helping to coordinate many local events, manage the retail inventory, the website, and assist in various ways with events throughout the nation.
I enjoy being able to see the passion the event coordinators and volunteers show at all our events (as I read and upload all their reports and photos onto our C.A.S.T. website).
Now I also have the opportunity to pay it forward by teaching my 5-year-old son the value of volunteering. His favorite job is handing out the tubs of worms to each boater before they launch to go fishing. Some lessons are tougher as he learns to share his Papa, a boat captain, with another kid for a day - as they get to go fishing or ride in a boat for the first time!
I challenge you to find a way to incorporate volunteering into your life and see first-hand the many rewards you gain. Of course, I'd love to see you at one of our C.A.S.T. events or in the photos helping a child catch their first fish!