Challenge yourself to become more community supportive

February 18, 2010


Each day, countless important events take place across Louisiana. Whether they’re cultural events, community events or a non-profit organization hosting a fundraising event, they’re all from diverse organizations making a difference day in and day out. The question: just who is doing all of this organizing?

As someone who understands the complexities associated with hosting an event, it is amazing to me how, all over the community, activities are continually taking place that bring a sense of joy, accomplishment or just plain pride in a place called home.

After doing a little research into these worthwhile organizations, I discovered that the majority of them rely upon the generosity of volunteers to accomplish their goals. They are volunteers that take a little time out of their day to do something for an organization they are passionate about. No wonder these events and organizations are so successful. Not only do these volunteers care about what they are working toward, it also gives them a sense of accomplishment, self-confidence and pride in their actions.

For businessmen and women, becoming a volunteer also means introduction to influential people throughout the community. That, along with the potential to meet new friends who embrace a wide range of viewpoints. Plus, you become known for your role as a community advocate.

I decided I wanted to be that person — that volunteer — and began delving into the organizations my community had to offer to find my passion. What I found was a cultural event that has been in existence for 24 years — Festival International de Louisiane. I currently am on the board of directors, I have met many new friends and my passion for this festival grows every day.

Festival International began 24 years ago when the Lafayette, La., economy was at an all-time low. Community-minded citizens came together to instill a sense of pride in our community by focusing on our heritage and culture. Today, the festival is rated one of the top 10 in the country. It is held the last full weekend in April from Wednesday to Sunday and is focused on music of a Francophone nature. There are six stages with musicians from all over the world performing at the same time in the downtown area that locals as well as tourist can enjoy.

The Lafayette community has embraced this festival. Its continued success hinges on voluntarism, as volunteers make up 98% of the festival’s work force. Festival International is free to the public and generates an enormous boost to our economy each year. The educational factor of our French heritage and the music, arts and cinema that are all displayed remind our community of our culture’s beginnings.

This non-profit organization is where my passion lies. It gives me great pride to see the success of a mission accomplished — the joy on the faces of my neighbors and the awe of the visitors from afar. I encourage you to find your passion and become more in tune with your community. Become a volunteer — it certainly is a journey worth taking.