Volunteering can be an exciting, growing, enjoyable experience. It is truly gratifying to serve a cause, practice one’s ideals, work with people, solve problems, see benefits, and know one had a hand in them. — Harriet Naylor
My World, Right Side Up – How Volunteering Impacted My Journey
by Jason P. Henry
A handful of years ago I decided it was time to reinvent my life. I was terrified at the thought of starting over. Still, my heart was pleading to be followed, and I allowed it to lead the way. I was led back to Colorado Springs and on September 20, 2012, I was sitting (alone) in a coffee shop/bookstore. Because that’s what writers do (right?). That Thursday would be one to remember.
Fueled by a caramel macchiato, I was typing away on the best not-yet-published thriller ever. At least I was trying to. Not far from me was a cluster of tables, surrounded by a lively bunch of people who couldn’t stop talking long enough for me to focus. Annoyed that they had disrupted my efforts to become the next James Patterson, I had to know what their problem was. The following Thursday I was seated at that cluster of tables, and I have sat with that improv writing group (been a part of that problem) nearly every Thursday since.
The group was (and still is) attended by many talented people. Among them was Bonnie Hagan, the 2013 Pikes Peak Writers Conference Director and other key PPW volunteers. It wasn’t long before I was being inundated with a barrage of ‘Pikes Peak Writers this’ and ‘Pikes Peak Writers Conference that’. Eventually, with their passion for the organization and their love of the conference, they wore me down. I applied for the A/V work study. The next thing I knew, I was shaking hands with David Liss and Barry Eisler. I was having dinner with Amber Benson and Twist Phelan was telling me I should be in movies. Following that conference, I found myself running A/V for the PPW Write Brains. Every month I was meeting some successful author and getting to know more local writer folk. I found my own network and circle of friends growing daily.
Then I was asked to be the Faculty Coordinator for the 2014 Pikes Peak Writers Conference. It was an amazing experience. I was in contact with so many success stories and inspired by their enthusiasm. I was attending planning meetings and absorbing the passion and devotion that the PPWC staff exuded. I found myself talking to FBI agents, coroners, and crime scene specialists. A thriller writers dream come true! At that conference, I was laughing with Chuck Wendig. I was having candid, everyday conversations with Hank Phillippi Ryan and Jim C. Hines. And, yes, I may have flirted with Gail Carriger.
Just when I thought life couldn’t get any better, I became Programming Director for the 2015 Pikes Peak Writers Conference. In the past year I have met even more amazing people, grown even closer to the other hard-working staff of the conference planning committee. Conference isn’t even here yet, but I have dropped f-bombs with Seanan McGuire. I’ve spoken to Mary Kay Andrews and Andrew Gross. And yes (OMG!), I have talked about the Ohio State Buckeyes with R.L. Stine!
I dropped a lot of names, but I did so for a reason. I went from sitting alone in a coffee shop to a life many aspiring authors from any genre would dream of. I am surrounded by one of the best support groups a person could ask for. I am inspired every day by the stories of others and because of that I keep putting one foot in front of the other, stepping confidently in the direction of my dreams. It all started with an opportunity to volunteer. Paydays can come in the form of something much greater than money. In the shape of friends. In a sense of community. In a network that is forever expanding. In the pride of not only setting out to achieve your goals, but for helping others reach theirs. The volunteer opportunities are varied. Find one that’s your size and try it on. You never know where the journey will take you!
Kinds of Volunteers Needed:
- Write Brains
Please address any questions or issues to PPWs Volunteer Coordinator.