The Last Word: Bradley Cooper, Volunteerism And Me

Filed Under: Last Word, March 2017 Issue

By Matt Cronin

Various colleges have different official and unofficial names for the book that has pictures and information for each member of the incoming freshman class. As I entered Villanova University many (too many) years ago, little did I know that my class would include one of the most famous actors in the world. Since my freshman book has a picture of a skinny version of a now famous actor with a relatively funny hairdo it likely has a significant fair market value. It turns out that Bradley Cooper transferred to our bitter basketball rivals – Georgetown University – after our freshman year.

Most of the freshmen class identified similar activities as their favorites – basketball, soccer, other sports, travel, family and friends, etc. I found it very interesting that one individual – a friend who has subsequently built a successful legal practice north of Boston – identified volunteerism as their favorite activity. With all due respect to Bradley, this is the one item that sticks in my head about the “freshman book.”

This sparked my curiosity at the time, and has ultimately lead to a much richer life since then. I was lucky enough to work for PricewaterhouseCoopers, a company that pushed its employees to volunteer with various organizations. Thus, while I was refining my understanding of income statements and balance sheets, I was also learning the impact that teaching Success Skills to 9th-graders at inner city schools had – on the students and on me.

I was hooked.

When I moved back to the region, I was excited to dive back into the numerous volunteer opportunities in our area.

So why volunteer? I volunteer for the following reasons:
• It’s helped me develop new skills and enhance existing skills.
• It’s helped me build confidence.
• It’s helped me develop relationships and connections to a lot of great people.
• It’s an investment in our community.
• There’s a lot of research that shows that the more you volunteer, the happier you are. It helps build empathy and strengthen bonds.
• It builds your resume. When I interview potential new hires for my company, I want to see that they’ve volunteered. I ask all candidates about their volunteer experience.
• It helps enhance time management.

How does one get involved in volunteering?

A good local resource is, a Cape & Islands United Way program that matches people to meaningful volunteer opportunities. Other resources can be found at Talk to friends.

Research areas that are meaningful to you on the web. I emailed the executive director of the YMCA of Cape Cod when I returned to the area because I loved their focus on a healthy mind, body and spirit.

When it comes down to it, you don’t have to be a lawyer or an Oscar-nominated actor in order to be a successful volunteer. You just have to be willing to invest your time.

Matt Cronin is president & Founder, Boardwalk Business Group.

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