You’re never too young or old to be involved

Guest Blogger General Blog, Ozone House Services

Guest blogger: Madeline Smith

As you may have read last month on this blog, Ozone House has spent the last year building a millennial board. This year, my fellow Millennial Ozone Board (MOB) members and I are excited to tell you, through this blog, more about why we’ve chosen to get involved, how we’re supporting the organization, and how you can help.

Today I’m sharing more about why I joined the MOB; some obvious and less obvious (to me) reasons. When I started thinking about this question, and when I talk with people about why I got involved, it’s always something along the lines of :

“I’ve worked for two strong nonprofit organizations since I graduated college – the Michigan League of Conservation Voters & Fair Food Network. Both of these organizations have strong leadership and boards of directors, including a few people who have given me strong professional advice and mentorship. Board membership seems like an meaningful way give back and use your years of experience (and dollars!) to help a more under resourced organization grow.”

The more I thought about it though, I realized the importance of this work resonates a little deeper. I’ve had over 26 years of preparation to be involved with an organization like Ozone House! I grew up with parents who have dedicated their lives to making young people feel safe and supported. Via careers in nonprofit management, teaching and counseling they made sure countless kids and teens had a chance to reach their full potential, not to mention their five daughters. The support my parents gave my sisters and I has allowed us to each to become our own very-different-but-more-similar-than-we want-to-admit-people. And most importantly, happy, independent people who care about giving back to their community!

For those who aren’t getting the same level of support in Washtenaw County I was lucky enough to have at home, Ozone House is there. For the thousands of young adults in our community without the safe support from parents and guardians they need, Ozone House is filling the gap with access to shelter, job training, mental health support and much more. Ozone House intervenes at a critical juncture in the lives of young people and sets them up for success as adulthood is on the horizon. No contribution of time or money is too small to help them achieve their mission.

While I initially figured I was at least 20 years away from being a good candidate for board membership, the last year of service with the MOB has reminded me you’re never too young or old to be involved. We all have a passion or skill that can be leveraged to help out a person or cause we care about. And case this sounds too altruistic, I should mention that I’ve gotten just as much as I’ve put in out of the MOB. I’ve made connections with interesting, smart peers, diversified my own professional skillset and had a lot of fun along the way.