Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Why Volunteer for Your Local Genealogy Center?

A couple of weeks ago, I was asked by Make Family Tree (http://www.make-family-tree.com/) to do an online interview for their website. Of course I agreed once I reviewed their website and deemed it to be a useful tool and an exciting approach to educating customers and genealogists. Actually, I was honored to have been asked.
While answering the interview questions, I realized the breath and depth of what I have experienced as a genealogist. And what was so amazing, is that much of my experience has come from volunteering, which of course is good since I can’t think of one paying customer who wants to pay me to learn with their project.
Of course we volunteer to give back to our community, to have what the author Paulo Coelho terms in El Zahir (I’m not sure of the title in English, I read all Coelho books in Spanish) as “The Bank of Favors Account” (my translation, which should be correct, unless he uses something else in his English translated books). The theory is that you deposit in the Bank of Favors account so others are indebted to you or to pay back a favor; or you withdraw from the account where you are amassing debt, or cashing out.
Well for this very reason, I volunteer. I like to have mi cuenta del Banco de Favores[i] balanced in all of my active communities, so of course I have volunteered for various genealogical projects and of course I still volunteer at the Mid-Continent Genealogy Library in Independence, Mo (KC Area). Through these volunteering opportunities, I have been able to gain experience working with records, genealogical technique and translations that may have never passed my desk at a3Genealogy. I often work with patrons, who need assistance in the basics or with those who have just hit a brick wall. What is amazing is that from my eyes often their brick walls are very transparent, but mine are solid through and through! I’ve had chances to collaborate with other genealogists, analyze data, and assists with tracing down resources.
Every time I volunteer, I seem to learn at least one more thing. I’m now working on an indexing project of the vertical files. Often I spend my break taking a one hour seminar, as I did today, on the History of Jackson County, Missouri. Just being in the library, has given me these learning opportunities and notches in my knowledge belt.
So, somewhere between researching impossible maiden names, or some other needle in a haystack, I still take out time to volunteer and to learn. It’s not just to deposit in mi cuenta del Banco de Favores anymore, I’ve seen many other benefits!Hope you are continuously learning and gaining from your volunteering opportunities.
[i] Mi cuenta del Banco de Favores = my Bank of Favors account

Kathleen Brandt
Accurate, Accessible Answers

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