If you’ve been to an event in Bethlehem, Todd has probably helped you find the beer tent, or given you a map or hung up all those signs so you can find your way to the food. Todd is a super volunteer. Luckily for us, he was willing to step out of anonymity for an interview with the B! News Insider. Now, meet Todd.
1. Besides volunteering at nearly every event, what do you do in the area? How did you come to Bethlehem, what’s your day job?
In addition to volunteering at Downtown Bethlehem Association events I also volunteer at Musikfest, Celtic Classic, Mayfair and some of the events put on by the Easton Main Street Initiative. I’m also the President of the Penn State Lehigh Valley Alumni Society. I was born and raised in Allentown, but moved to Bethlehem in fall of 2011, in large part because of all of the activities and the strong sense of community that I’ve felt in the city. By day I’m a reporter for the Daily Planet, oops, I mean, um, I’m a consultant that works with school districts and municipal governments who are using my company’s financial management software.
2. When did you start volunteering? Why?
I’d have to say that I only started “real” volunteering was in college. (Before that, any “volunteering” that was done through school, etc. was pretty much mandatory, and in my mind, that’s not exactly volunteering.) Initially it was probably because we were offered free food, a t-shirt or both. Some projects were clearly “we need cheap labor” but there were a few that clearly had a greater purpose and some, like THON, are things that I’m still involved with over a decade later. Now when looking at a possible volunteer opportunity I’m not concerned about free food or t-shirts, I try to determine if it actually has the potential to make a positive impact on the community.
3. What’s your favorite part about volunteering?
While volunteering is considered an altruistic activity, I think the most effective volunteer activities I’ve been a part of were ones where I was able to work with a group of people who weren’t there because they had to be, but because they truly believed in what they were doing. It may seem a bit self-serving, but volunteering is really inspiring for me because I not only get to see how my efforts are making the world a better place, even if it’s only in a small way, but I also get to work with highly motivated people from very diverse backgrounds in an environment where you have a sense of camaraderie that just doesn’t exist in even the best-paid jobs.
4. Would you recommend volunteering, if so, why?
Absolutely. I think just about everyone wants to try to help out one cause or another, but not everyone has the financial resources to make a monetary donation. One thing that almost everyone has is the gift of their time. In my experience, many organizations that I’ve helped with in the past can benefit more from volunteers helping out than they could from some spare change dropped in a bucket at the cash register when you buy your lunch.
5. Any stories that stick out as particularly memorable while you were volunteering at an event?
This past summer certainly had a few memorable moments. Somehow I was cajoled into participating in the hot pepper eating contest during the inaugural South Bethlehem Bike show. I won the contest, and I remember that as soon as I finished the final pepper my entire body was vibrating like I’d been using a jackhammer. I’m still not quite sure what that meant, but it’s not something I’ll soon forget.
So, next time you see Todd at a Downtown Bethlehem Association event, say hi (or ask him when the pepper eating contest is). Maybe at the next event you’ll be volunteering with him; the a silent guardian, a watchful protector.
A dark knight. A super volunteer.
If you’re interested in being more involved in any of our great events, click HERE to fill out a volunteer form!