When Pen Air Project Coordinator Meg Rich moved to the Pensacola area around seven years ago, she brought with her a strong drive to serve her community. “My parents taught me that giving back is an important part of life, and I’ve carried that value since I was young.”

The power of mentoring

In Meg’s eyes, the Pensacola community places great importance on giving back—and she’s been involved with community organizations for almost as long as she’s lived here. Much of her volunteer work (with organizations including OnBikes Pensacola and Pensacola Young Professionals) has revolved around supporting and lifting up children, teens, and young adults as they navigate the real world. No surprise that she finds her current commitment highly rewarding.

“Mentoring has been an important part of my life growing up and in my professional life today. Last year I become involved with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwest Florida. I knew what BBBS did, but always thought that with my schedule, I didn’t have enough time to be involved. These opportunities allowed me to give back and truly make a difference in the lives of our communities’ kids during the time I had available.”

Giving time, and making the most of it

Speaking of “available time,” Meg is passionate about making volunteerism accessible to people with full calendars. “I co-chair the Friends of BBBS group, which provides volunteer opportunities for those who want to be involved with the organization, but don’t have time to commit to being a ‘Big.’ ”

“I also chaired a brand-new fundraising event, The Big Scoop, this past spring. It was a fun, family-friendly event with free ice cream, carnival games, and an opportunity for the community to come together to support BBBS.” The event really drove home the organization’s positive effects for Meg: “During the Big Scoop, I saw how Bigs and Littles play and interact together. Talking with the Littles, I learned just how much BBBS has impacted their lives.”

You can give back, too!

We asked Meg what advice she’d give to people who want to perform volunteer service, but can’t commit lots of time or choose an organization to support. “Work with your passions. If you find a cause that means a lot to you, but you think you don’t have time or resources, just ask how you can help—I’m positive they can find a way for you to get involved at the level you desire! Even just a ‘Thank you!’ to staff and other volunteers will mean more than you know!”