Heather Grabowski – GO Volunteer

Learn more about Groundwork Opportunities and volunteering in our post “Volunteering Vision“.

I have been an avid supporter of Groundwork Opportunities (GO) since it was founded in 2008. I had just moved to San Francisco and I wanted to get involved in the community by volunteering for a local non-profit. I was first introduced to GO because a close friend of mine, Jennifer O’Connor, had just started working as their Development Director.

Heather's fundraising supported building beehives for a Ugandan village

She invited me to attend their first fundraising event and I instantly was attracted to their mission to create a world beyond poverty by investing in groundbreaking ideas, empowering local leaders, and engaging communities. The more I learned about GO’s mission and all of the diverse community led projects they were involved in, the more passionate I became about this organization. GO’s 100% to cause donation model and transparency was so inspiring that I wanted to do more than just donate or attend their events; I wanted to volunteer, fundraise, engage my network of friends/colleagues, and leverage my professional skills to increase the scope of its operations.

This past June, I joined GO’s racing team and became a GO champion. I chose to run the San Francisco Half Marathon on July 31, 2011 (my first race to date) and individually fundraise on behalf of GO. GO supports a model development farm in Masaka, Uganda that teaches other farmers and communities how to bring lasting food security to their homes, businesses and organizations. The model farm is used both as a training center and a community center for all program participants and gives farmers the skills they need to get out of poverty PERMANENTLY.

In an effort to build 30 beehives that would help 10 farmers to grow honey and get out of poverty forever, I focused my campaign to raise $1,000 to do just that. The support I received during my fundraising was remarkable! I was so humbled by everyone’s generosity and I ended up raising over $2,100, which ended up being enough to build 50+ beehives. Despite a foot injury during my training, I was able to cross the finish line with a smile on my face and know that I specifically ran those miles for the lives in Uganda that would be impacted forever.

Volunteers helped construct the beehives

Volunteering for GO has been an amazing and rewarding experience on both a social and professional level. I have strengthened my communication, negotiation, marketing and event planning skills. Volunteering has enabled me to be more connected with the local San Francisco philanthropic community and various business networks, while building lasting relationships that share my positivity and passion with my coworkers and customers.

As a result of my philanthropy efforts, I was recognized by many of my colleagues at Thomson Reuters, as well as the CEO, who presented me with a company Community Champion Award this past October. The best part was the award was a grant donation for GO! Through my ongoing volunteer work at GO, I have learned the phrase “You Give What You Have” which, in my view, means that whether someone only has a $1 to spare, advice to give, or volunteers their time, it all really makes a difference in helping those in need. With GO, I have learned we can demonstrate the power of how just one person can make a difference and help change the world.

Heather will be visiting Uganda this summer to see the impact of her project

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