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Do You Give Back

The one thing I have learned over the past years is that the genealogy community is a very giving community. I once had a discussion with my MIL about how I found someone to translate some Russian emails for me, for free (thanks Thomas MacEntee for coordinating that for me). She could not believe that someone I have never met was willing to take time out of their day to translate these emails so that I could continue my research on my MIL’s Russian line. We have always been told it is better to give than to receive, and I truly believe that. Do you give back to the community?

Since my kids were little and active in many different things, I have volunteered my time. Then, it was because I wanted to know who was in contact with my child. Call me overprotective, but I needed to be a part of everything; girl scouts, boy scouts, and cheerleading. When my youngest daughter played baseball, I sent my son to assist the coach. We were always there.

With genealogy I have done small amounts of giving back over the years. I administer a few message boards on ancestry (and have for a few years), I volunteered with the IL State Genealogical Society a few years back, but I had to stop because I was having bad health issues. Last year, I decided it was time to move forward with the volunteering again.

I started with volunteering at the Irish American Heritage Center; I am co-chairing the Genealogy Fest. This is going to be a fun event and I will share more information as we get closer to it.

I also started attending the meetings for the Chicago Genealogical Society and told their President that if they needed assistance with anything to let me know. At the end of the year they had a position open and I was more than happy to take it over. It is by no means a big job, but it is a position that I can do and maybe move on to something else later.

At the Irish American Heritage Center, I attended an event for Ireland Reaching Out. I was very impressed with their program and have volunteered to work on that as well. I will be helping to create content for the area my great-great grandfather was from.

Yesterday, I accepted a position with the Illinois State Genealogical Society as the membership chair. I am excited about getting more involved the State society this year. Also, it is great to be able to do this with friends.

When you look at everything together, it seems like a lot.  But, when you split it all up it is not so much. I guess we will see how the year progresses.

Do you volunteer? Share with us your volunteer commitments.




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  1. Thanks for inspiring me to get more involved in Ireland Reaching Out. Right now I volunteer at a no kill shelter called Kitty City and it’s wonderful. I always wanted to get more involved in giving back to the genealogy field but not sure how I can help. Will sign up today to volunteer because of your article! Slainte!

  2. I try to volunteer online as much as I can via indexing for FamilySearch and Unclaimed Persons. It allows me the flexibility of scheduling I need to accomodate the crazy that is my life at the moment. I also hope to join the correspondence committee of the Orange County (NY) Genealogical Society now that travel has settled down a bit until the first of the year. It’s not as much as I would like to do, but it is what I can do at the moment.

    1. Rorey, thats great that you volunteer online. I usually do that when the weather is really bad and I cannot get out of the house to do anything (which means I do not want to go into the cold, lol).

  3. I have always felt that I’m not giving back enough to the genealogy community, so I went to rootsweb to see what I volunteered for: 12 email lists 8 boards 15 websites, I’m a look up person for FAG, I guess I just have too much fun doing this that I had never done the numbers. It still feels like it is not enough giving back. I also did personal obit & other data look-ups when I lived in my home town. Still learning my new city to do this again…

  4. Your spirit of volunteerism is very admirable! I wish I could do more volunteering for the genealogical community, but I never can seem to find the time with two little ones. I do try to photograph graves for findagrave.com. The kids usually don’t mind running around the cemetery while I look around 🙂

    1. Emily,
      Thank you so much. At this point, I think I have over volunteered and will probably be looking at what will be good to cut at the end of the terms I have set up (maybe some of the smaller stuff).
      Luckily, my kids are older so getting out and doing things is not an issue for me. When they were small, all my volunteering was in scouts (both boy and girl), and cheerleading (coach, assistant director). I truly enjoyed my time will all of the activities my kids were in. So, it was a no brainer that I wanted to reach out in the genealogy community as well.
      The positions will be there when your children are older and you have the time to commit. For now, capture the family stories and enjoy your little ones (the time flies by)!
      Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment, it is greatly appreciated!

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