In honor of National Volunteer Month, we want to highlight one of our more than 10,000 dedicated volunteers. Curtis Springstead, Chairman and mentor for the SCORE Northeast NJ Chapter, explains why he became a SCORE volunteer and how the experience has helped him.
Prior to retiring, I looked into several options for the next phase, including part-time work, teaching and increased volunteering.
Having been a volunteer in various organizations in many roles for over 30 years, I knew what I enjoyed and what I needed to preserve from my career.
Where best to volunteer?
Remembering a mention of SCORE from many years ago, I decided to see what they did today and what it might offer me as a volunteer opportunity. It didn’t take long to see I needed to learn even more, and I clicked the “volunteer” link starting a process that just under 4 years ago lead me to start my mentoring role with the Northeast New Jersey Chapter.
How has volunteering for SCORE helped me?
Built on my career. Having been a consultant my entire career, the work seemed familiar and had many of the same aspects that made my work so exciting. The best news was that it let me work helping business owners realize their dreams, but with a managed schedule and less of the pressure to finish and bill the client.
Problem-solving fun. I have always enjoyed learning about businesses and their leadership but really get excited when faced with a problem to solve. SCORE clients hit all the bases even if they may be on a somewhat smaller scale than my work clients. Actually, it was refreshing to return to my roots when my work focused on small businesses.
Interesting projects. The more than 80 clients I have touched cover a wide array of opportunities, from a not-for-profit focused on helping teens, to a for-profit app developer. In some cases, I was their consultant, teaching approaches to address the challenges of operating a business or developing their service or product. In many cases, mentoring was a greater need.
Helping people find their power. For me, the difference is that the mentoring nurtures the emotional side of being an entrepreneur and does not tell the client what to do but helps them explore what they need and want to do. On occasion, I find our role as mentors is a combination of cheerleader or confidante to help them get past a challenge.
Keep learning and growing. In order to serve my clients well, I have had to continue my lifelong learning habit to make sure I am relevant to my clients. The business page in the paper is still relevant, following new trends in the market and staying abreast of new tech is still a key to success.
As I increase my role in the chapter, I still engage with clients to make sure I wake up each day with a fulfilling purpose to my life, an engaging mental challenge and a framework for day to day life.