By Kelly Gast
Global Business Operations
This week is National Volunteer Week in the United States. What a wonderful way to highlight the good work of good people around the country! Volunteering is a big part of what I do. I’m currently co-chairing the United Way of Greater St. Louis campaign for Monsanto, I serve as the Treasurer for the Center for Women in Transition and I often seize other volunteer opportunities within the community.
I haven’t always given this much time, but an experience I had with a gentleman in the Philippines about four years ago sparked me to get involved. He was an incredibly busy man who owned multiple companies, but he said he gave 20 percent of his time to charitable organizations. I was so touched by the stories he shared of the experiences that it made me realize I was probably missing out. I was so consumed with my family and my career that I didn’t think I could spare anytime for anything else, but after hearing his stories, I decided to get involved, even if just in a small way.
I started out as a member of the board for The Center for Women in Transition. They are an organization serving women as they come out of prison. We help them with housing and other basic needs because, in a lot of cases, they don’t have family to go to. We help the women develop skills and learn how to live on their own. I quickly got more and more engaged because I wanted to do what I could to help change the cycle of incarceration. If we help these women, we are also helping their kids learn a better way of life.
Within a year, I was leading the finance committee and serving as the treasurer on the executive committee of the Board. It is so rewarding to use the skills that I’ve developed throughout my career at Monsanto to help this small organization make the most of the money that we receive by grants and personal donations. There is so much more we can do, but we are taking one step at a time and trying to serve as many women as we can.
I’m fortunate to work for a company that supports me in this endeavor. Monsanto generously matches my contributions to charities; they make donations for every 20 hours of work I put into an organization; and they support using our offices and time to facilitate meetings. All of these things make it easier for me to make a difference.
This support reinforces the need for us all to come together to make a difference. In honor of National Volunteer Week, I applaud the efforts of all people who give of themselves to help others.