In 2006, I volunteered with the Taproot Foundation, a non-profit organization that makes business talent available to organizations working to improve society. It was an enlightening experience that changed my life in more ways than I ever could have imagined.

My project was to design a new logo for the Nativity Network of Schools in New York. This organization provides education as a means of breaking the cycle of poverty.

We were tasked with rebranding Nativity, which had become consumer synonymous with “Kleenex” in the world of charter schools. We interviewed 25 individuals who claim some sort of stake in the brand to help devise a new branding strategy that would unify all under one name while still allowing each school its individuality. We found the research process fascinating, as it allowed us to explore Jesuit imagery and philosophy related to education. The design process challenged us to think beyond our usual answers and find new solutions for a non-corporate client.

The New York Nativity team was incredibly accommodating and open to our experience. My wedding coincided with the project, which put a lot of pressure on us. The Wednesday before my wedding, the priest scheduled to marry us—my husband’s great uncle—suffered a mild heart attack and could not travel to the wedding. We were scrambling to find a replacement at the last minute.

On a whim, I called Vin DeCola on Thursday morning, and even though it was likely not going to work out, he told me everything would be alright. Father Vin said it was the least he could do for fellow Fordham alumni and all the branding work we had done for New York Nativity. Long story short: Taproot saved my wedding when Father Vin showed up on Saturday afternoon in New Paltz, N.Y. He presided over my wedding ceremony graciously, and I cannot thank him enough for his kindness that day.

It’s easy to forget what matters when you’re bogged down with work in a corporate setting. However, volunteering at events such as Taproot allow you to use your skills for good and help non-profits. It might even change you for the better as it did for me.

If you’ve had a life-changing experience through volunteer work, please share it with us in the comments section below!

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