Volunteering benefits both the community and the individual

Published 5:45 am Monday, November 28, 2022

The Women’s Commission of Southwest Louisiana, Inc., celebrated their 32nd anniversary in 2022.

The organization was created in 1990 to create an enriching charitable and educational space for women throughout Southwest Louisiana.

Their overall mission is “to educate, empower and expand the status of women living in Southwest Louisiana.”

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Kathy Sonnier, WCSWLA member, explained that organizations like the Women’s Commission are important to nurture women in the community. “As women we need to support one another and help lift each other up to reach our greatest potential,” she said. “The commission serves as a vehicle for which this can occur.”

She stated that to achieve this, the organization actively works “to lift up women giving recognition to outstanding accomplishments, providing scholarships to non-traditional women seeking degrees, to educate and inspire via workshops and provide a place for networking among other women at our annual fall conference for women.”

Cynthia Roy, WCSWLA Advisory/Community Events Director, explained that she recognized these efforts soon after joining the WCSWLA. “Since becoming a member of the Women’s Commission, I immediately recognized the hard work and dedication involved in hosting our annual Fall Conference,” she said. “It provided me with a deeper appreciation for organizations hosting an event.”

She continued by saying that she stays motivated to be active in the WCSWLA through the organization’s acknowledgment of her work. “My inspiration from volunteering comes from just receiving the sincere gestures of appreciation by the organizers.”

Volunteerism is not new to Roy. Her altruistic journey began with the Lake Area Runners.  “I have been volunteering for over 25 years, starting with Lake Area Runners back in the mid-’90s,” she explained.

She started working with Lake Area Runners after she began bringing her son to their events. “My son was matched through BBBS with a young man that was a runner and I would bring him to their events to watch him compete,” she said. “I thought to myself, I might as well do something useful and help out, so I assisted with registration.”

For Roy, volunteering benefits both the community and the individual. “To me, volunteerism means you are given an opportunity to assist with an event or organization and support their cause, all while meeting people and building new relationships and friendships.”

Selflessly donating one’s resources – talent, funds or time –  is an amazing feeling, according to Roy. “To me, there is no greater feeling than the gesture of giving of yourself first,” she said. “Volunteering is my way of ‘paying it forward.’”

“I would encourage anyone to make the first step and sign up,” she continued.

Sonnier stated that the members of the WCSWLA stay busy with events and other organizations such as ChamberFest, Second Harvest Mobile Market, McNeese Career Closet and the annual WCSWLA Fall Conference.

“We continually volunteer as a group to assist many charitable organizations in our area,” she said.

This year’s Fall Conference took place Thursday, Oct. 20, and featured keynote speaker Dr. Melva K. Williams, president and CEO of Huston-Tillotson University. Next year’s conference is scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 19.

More information on the WCSWLA can be found at https://womenscommissionswla.com.