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Ever since I was a child, I have been a ready and able volunteer.  Being engaged in events is fun for me.  I am not sure what drives me to be a volunteer, but I am still active at it today contributing perhaps 200-300 hours a year to various causes.  I am still working and some of my friends who are already retired volunteer much more than I do, perhaps as much as 500 to 1,000 hours per annum.  Considering that 2,000 hours is deemed to be a full-time work year, that is rather amazing.

One characteristic that sets humans apart from other animals on this planet is our willingness to help others, even if you need to sacrifice your own well-being.  Thousands of people around the world volunteer their time and energy for causes they hold dear to them.

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Photo Credit – EAA

In the United States, nearly one out of three adults regularly spends some time volunteering, according to University of Minnesota psychologist Mark Snyder, PhD, who studies volunteerism.

When I initially started thinking about this, I was struck by how much easier it was to come up with reasons why people shouldn’t volunteer than why they should,” Snyder says. “It’s time consuming, it’s stressful, it takes time away from your job or family or leisure.” There are so many excuses offered that it is almost humorous in nature.  Some folks go to such extreme efforts to avoid volunteering that it would have been much easier to just say yes, and then get the job done!

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Photo Credit – EAA

So what is it, he began to ask, that propels so many people to donate their time, their energy and their efforts anyway?

For some, personal values and concerns about the world will lead them to volunteering. These attributes can also include those who volunteer for religious reasons, as many monotheistic religions emphasize helping others.  For example, helping those less fortunate is a large part of Christianity, and the concept of karma in Hinduism means those good deeds come back to you.  However, no evidence exists that suggests those who are religious volunteer more than those who are not, and volunteerism is still high among those who are not religious.

Another reason some people feel a need to volunteer is because they’re concerned about the community they live in or an ethnic group to which they feel attachment.  These community concerns are usually the top reason older volunteers give back for their actions.  In these cases, volunteers may pick up garbage around their neighborhood or help build a new playground for underprivileged children.

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Photo Credit – EAA

Over the years, they’ve identified five primary motivations for volunteering:

  • Values. Volunteering to satisfy personal values or humanitarian concerns. For some people this can have a religious component.
  • Community concern. Volunteering to help a particular community, such as a neighborhood or ethnic group, to which you feel attached.
  • Esteem enhancement. Volunteering to feel better about yourself or escape other pressures.
  • Understanding. Volunteering to gain a better understanding of other people, cultures or places.
  • Personal development. Volunteering to challenge yourself, meet new people and make new friends, or further your career.

Different types of volunteers have slightly different levels of these motivations, according to Snyder. Younger volunteers, for example, are more likely to volunteer for career-related reasons, while older volunteers more often cite abstract ideas of good citizenship and contributing to their communities.

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Photo Credit – EAA

Most psychologists who study volunteerism say that although such theoretical arguments are important, they may not have much bearing on the practical question of why people volunteer.

I don’t doubt that, from a theoretical perspective, one can derive differences,” Snyder says. “But in the real world, these things are intimately wrapped up.  The same act of volunteering can have an altruistic component, reflecting a true concern for the welfare of others, but also an egoistic component, in that the volunteer receives clear benefits to the self.  It’s better to see these motivations feeding each other, rather than being in competition.

Photo by Ken Mist.

As July approaches, my beloved EAA AirVenture 2019 gathering is fast upon us.  Over 600,000 people attended this event last year.  It is said that over 5,000 volunteers come together to make it happen.  Without the many volunteers, this world leading aviation event would not happen.

So, why not join me and become an EAA AirVenture 2019 volunteer?  Some cut grass, others marshal aircraft, and others staff help-desks providing directions and offering guests assistance.  Regardless of how you engage at this, or any other event, the rewards of volunteering are amazing.

Photo by Ken Mist.

You can find me volunteering at The Red Tail Squadron’s RISE ABOVE Traveling Exhibit over at the Pioneer Field grass strip across from the EAA Museum each morning.  This exhibit tells the story of the famed Tuskegee Airmen.  It is a powerful story that needs to be told.

The KidVenture events happen at Pioneer Field at the Oshkosh airport and sharing this important history and culture with the next generation is exciting and loads of fun.  Kids possess a passion for learning and quickly absorb these stories.  They are enthralled with the romance, adventure, and daring deeds.   However, we hope that they never know the actual horrors of war.

We have an uplifting 15-minute, high definition film to thrill the audiences.  As a bonus, parents love to sit down in the air conditioned theatre and take a break from the endless events and miles of walking at AirVenture.

Photo by Ken Mist.

If you drop by this year, you will have a chance to meet three of our special guests.  All three are retired original WWII Tuskegee Airmen.  Col. Charles Magee, Lt. Col. George Hardy, and Lt. Col. (Dr.) Harold Brown are all scheduled to be at AirVenture 2019 in person.  And, these WWII P51 Mustang pilots and war heroes look forward to meeting you too.

“It is such an honor to enjoy the continued support of Tuskegee Airmen,” said CAF Red Tail Squadron Leader Doug Rozendaal. “For years these gentlemen have lent their support to help us create a meaningful educational outreach program to tell the story of perseverance of their fellow Tuskegee Airmen.  Having them join us at AirVenture is a privilege and we hope their presence makes a lasting impact on the families that come visit our RISE ABOVE Traveling Exhibit.”

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Photo by Ken Mist.

The RISE ABOVE Traveling Exhibit is a FREE panoramic movie theater that inspires and educates all ages with the remarkable history of the Tuskegee Airmen.  This immersive experience is housed in an air-conditioned 53’ semi trailer with expandable sides and equipped with a ramp and hydraulic lift to ensure access to all.  Because of its dynamic 160-degree panoramic screen, the film creates the feeling of being in the cockpit soaring above the clouds in a P-51C Mustang, the iconic signature aircraft of the Tuskegee Airmen.

The Squadron’s rare P-51C Mustang airplane will also be on static display in AirVenture’s Warbird Alley, a rare treat as it is only one of a few like it still airworthy.  Come enjoy this museum without walls and be inspired by the Tuskegee Airmen to RISE ABOVE your own challenges.

Photo by Ken Mist.

EAA AirVenture, “The World’s Greatest Aviation Celebration,” will take place July 22-28. Learn more or to volunteer click on the link at

A Call to Action

Will I see you there?  Stop by to say, “Hello“.  Or, better yet, we could use a few more volunteers at the RISE ABOVE Traveling Exhibit.  So, why not sign up to help us share these dramatic real life stories.  Volunteering is not hard and anyone can do it.  Alternately, sign up at the EAA booth near the Red Barn store to volunteer for the general EAA AirVenture crews.

So, no more lame excuses.  It is time to engage in volunteering.  Your life will be far more richer for it.  You will love it!  I promise you.


Cover Photo by Ken Mist.

All other photos by EAA or as credited within the article.

Wake Forest University. (2019) The Psychology of Volunteerism. Retrieved on June 29, 2019 from,

Winerman, L. (2006). Helping Others, Helping Ourselves. American Psychological Association. Vol 37, No. 11, p. 38. Retrieved on June 29, 2019 from,

About the Author:

Michael Martin has more than 35 years of experience in systems design for broadband networks, optical fibre, wireless and digital communications technologies.

He is a Senior Executive with IBM Canada’s Office of the CTO, Global Services. Over the past 14 years with IBM, he has worked in the GBS Global Center of Competency for Energy and Utilities and the GTS Global Center of Excellence for Energy and Utilities. He was previously a founding partner and President of MICAN Communications and before that was President of Comlink Systems Limited and Ensat Broadcast Services, Inc., both divisions of Cygnal Technologies Corporation (CYN: TSX).

Martin currently serves on the Board of Directors for TeraGo Inc (TGO: TSX) and previously served on the Board of Directors for Avante Logixx Inc. (XX: TSX.V). 

He serves as a Member, SCC ISO-IEC JTC 1/SC-41 – Internet of Things and related technologies, ISO – International Organization for Standardization, and as a member of the NIST SP 500-325 Fog Computing Conceptual Model, National Institute of Standards and Technology.

He served on the Board of Governors of the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) and on the Board of Advisers of five different Colleges in Ontario.  For 16 years he served on the Board of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE), Toronto Section. 

He holds three master’s degrees, in business (MBA), communication (MA), and education (MEd). As well, he has diplomas and certifications in business, computer programming, internetworking, project management, media, photography, and communication technology.