Disney VoluntEARS Turns 30 and Keeps on GivingWhit Honea
“Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out.” — Robert Collier
The quote above is attributed to the late self-help and New Thought author Robert Collier, and today his words can be found freshly painted on the wall of an elementary school hallway in South Central Los Angeles.
The Collier quote is joined by several other inspirational phrases and illustrations that were put there by Disney Cast Members during a school painting project.
The elementary school event was one of many community projects undertaken in the month of May by Disney employees to help commemorate the Disney VoluntEARS program and its 30 years of community service—over 7.5 million hours in over 40 countries.
What makes Collier’s words so fitting to the Disney VoluntEARS celebration is that they work on many different levels. In the context of Collier’s writings the quote serves as a tool to better one’s self, and through the acts of citizenship and community outreach, which are at the very core of the Disney VoluntEARS philosophy, that personal betterment is found in extending the same opportunity to others—it’s all so circular.
Personally, I am from the school of thought that giving to others through time, skill, action, inspiration, knowledge, or any number of selfless acts is wonderfully selfish in the best sort of way. There is no better feeling than helping other people and making a difference. That is success, and, to paraphrase Collier, it is the sum of many small efforts made willingly and often.
The Disney VoluntEARS program has been building success for 30 years. It is a culture of community service created by Disney employees, and it shows no signs of slowing. In fact, Walt Disney Company Chairman and CEO Robert Iger has announced that the next step for Disney VoluntEARS is to further their global impact by selecting a service team to build a classroom in Ecuador—the first project of global service, according to Iger, “in the history of The Walt Disney Company.”
He continued, “I’m inspired by our VoluntEARS, by their commitment to service, and their determination to make a difference.”
Recently VoluntEARS from different branches of The Walt Disney Company met to discuss future opportunities, celebrate the program’s 30th anniversary, and to honor those that have been a part of it. It was there, after being named Executive VoluntEAR of the Year, that Disney Interactive Co-President Jimmy Pitaro shared a touching story about his daughter choosing to forgo birthday gifts that year and instead request donations to some of her favorite charities. The story hit home.
As the parent of two young boys I feel that one of my biggest responsibilities as a father is to foster an active call to citizenship and community service in my children. I want them to know that they, regardless of their size or age, can make a difference. After all, it only takes small efforts.
“Compassion is now cool,” Pitaro added. “And it is spreading.”
I like that, because success is also a work in progress.