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The Power of Volunteering

James R. Thornton, CSP, CIH, FASSP, FAIHA, 2023-24 ASSP President and ASSP Foundation Chair
Apr 01, 2024

Jim Thornton

Over the years of my service with ASSP, you have heard me talk often about the many rewards I have gained as a volunteer leader. Volunteering has enriched my career and my life, providing countless opportunities to make a meaningful impact. Through my volunteer work with ASSP and similar groups, I have become a better safety professional, leader, friend and person. I have improved my business acumen, strengthened my soft skills and made many lifelong friends.

Sometimes, it can be easy to think of volunteering as a should-do obligation, but I have always viewed it as a must-take opportunity. I would like to highlight five reasons you should consider becoming more involved and contributing in new ways to ASSP. If my experience demonstrates anything it is that active participation can take you to places you may never have envisioned or even considered.

1) Deepen your connection with your professional community. Volunteering offers an opportunity to interact with like-minded individuals who share your passion for and commitment to the OSH profession. Through collaborative efforts and shared experiences, you can not only expand your network but also cultivate a sense of belonging that forges long-term relationships that you can rely on for guidance and support.

2) Hone essential skills. As a volunteer, you have access to a platform for practicing fundamental skills that will help you in both your professional and personal life. From effective communication and problem-solving skills to leadership and project management, volunteering provides countless opportunities for adding skills to your toolbox. As you contribute in various ways across the organization, you can gain experience navigating diverse challenges and acquire practical knowledge that can bolster your confidence and competence in the workplace.

3) Experience personal growth and self-discovery. In addition to acquiring new skills, taking a volunteer role allows you to step outside your comfort zone, explore new interests and identify untapped potential. Whether you are organizing a networking event, delivering an education event or mentoring newcomers, each activity enables you to self-reflect and grow.

4) Create your personal legacy. Through your volunteer contributions, you make a lasting mark on ASSP, the member communities you serve, your organization and our profession. By contributing your time and expertise, you enrich the experiences of other members and help shape the future direction of ASSP. Whether your focus is advocating for change, delivering expert content and best practice guidance, or fostering a culture of inclusivity, your contributions will have a meaningful and enduring impact.

5) Achieve a profound sense of fulfillment. This has been the most rewarding aspect of giving back through my volunteer activities. Witnessing the tangible outcomes of these efforts—from seeing a project succeed to supporting the growth of peers—reminds us that our contributions have a ripple effect on ASSP’s continued success and our profession’s long-term future.

Whether you are a seasoned volunteer or a newcomer, there is a place for you within our vibrant community. At its heart, volunteering for our Society is not about fulfilling obligations. It is about improving ourselves as people and professionals. Together, we can create a legacy that will propel ASSP well into the future. To learn more about our many volunteer opportunities and start experiencing the transformative power of being part of a community working together for a safer, stronger future, please visit the “Get Involved” section of our website (

Finally, let me remind you that National Volunteer Week is April 21-27. I want to sincerely thank all the volunteers who have and continue to contribute to ASSP. Your engagement strengthens our Society and helps us continue to evolve in more diverse and advanced ways than ever before. I am truly grateful and inspired by your dedication and commitment to ASSP, our members and our profession. We could not achieve all we do without you!


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