My parents were very active in community service on a volunteer basis. My mother was president of the local PTA (Parent-Teacher Association) and a board member of the Interfaith Council. When I was young, their primary concern was discrimination in real estate in our section of Queens, N.Y., a borough of New York City.
My father was very active in our synagogue, men’s club, and building committee, which tripled the size of the building when I was 11 years old. He was involved in his lodge as a committee chair. When he retired from construction and moved to Florida, he became active in the local tennis club, eventually becoming president.
Not only was volunteerism in my DNA but so was leadership. The key to volunteering is understanding that you’ve made a commitment to perform to the best of your abilities. The compensation isn’t in money but in the very satisfying feeling you get from the completion of the activity you committed to. In many cases, the learning experience is worth more than any compensation you could have earned.
My IMA volunteer career began in 1976 when I transferred to the Long Island Chapter. My first assignment was associate special activities director. Ten years later I became chapter president, which truly was the beginning of my leadership skills development.
In 2016, I became IMA Chair. The leadership opportunities at IMA came faster than in my professional life. IMA provides great professional education, but, if you dare to take a chance, the leadership education can be priceless. You can learn all the skills of a management accountant and at the same time learn to be a leader in your company, community, family, and IMA. Try it; you’ll like it. I dare you.
Through volunteering, you can also achieve diversity of experience and thought. Starting in college, I volunteered at the Rider University radio station, which broadcast to the entire campus. In addition to being business manager, I had a rock music show and a sports late-night talk show, and I did play-by-play for Rider basketball games. I also cochaired an annual fundraiser for multiple sclerosis.
In addition to IMA (that story has been told), I have served on the board of the Coalition Against Child Abuse and Neglect. This was a real eye-opener since the organization was part of a multidisciplinary team of social workers, law enforcement, and medical personnel who handled victims immediately after an incident was reported.
As treasurer of the Huntington Arts Council, a little culture and fine arts entered my life. I was able to gain knowledge of the art world and appreciate the varying mediums used for self-expression. I want to leave you with this: Compensation isn’t the issue—it’s your commitment to perform to the best of your ability. Once you make a promise, keep it.