Monthly Archives: March 2011

Eric Olson: Mechanical Engineer, Husband, Father and Sports Loving Volunteer

In the fall of 2009 a group of clients from our Eagan center asked if I could recruit a Sports Talk volunteer. I put a shout out to our neighbor across the street, Ecolab, and asked if anyone would be interested in volunteering. We were thrilled when a few weeks later I got an email from Eric B. Olson, engineer and sports enthusiast, saying that he would be happy to share his sports knowledge at Lifeworks.

Eric Olson: Pro orator and discourse champion of all things sports

You know how sometimes you just instantly like someone? That was my experience with Eric. When he talks about his family, work or sports, especially the U of MN Golden Gophers his face is one big smile. No one would be able to not like sports when they are with Eric, his enthusiasm is infectious. He definitely knows his topic and we have an audience that hangs on his every word.

Eric’s first visit was almost one and half years ago and the clients at the Eagan center get just as excited to see him today as they did on that first November visit. Recently I checked in with Eric to ask him a few questions about his commitment to Lifeworks and his willingness to talk sports with us.

“Why do you volunteer?” I asked.  Eric thoughtfully responded,

“Prior to beginning my volunteer experience at Lifeworks, I always wondered where I could find a volunteer opportunity that would suit both what I may be looking for as well as the needs of the organization for which I was to volunteer. Individuals volunteer for many reasons whether it is to develop new skills, try out a new job, help the community, or meet new people to name a few. For me, a normal Friday from noon to 1:00 pm might consist of a lunch out with some co-workers, some time spent at my desk working on various projects, or researching something on the internet. With the addition of a volunteer position to my slate of normal responsibilities, I have been able to provide (hopefully) some enjoyment to those clients with whom I interact, as well as from a network perspective to expand my personal list of contacts outside of work and home. Simply, this opportunity gives me a dedicated timeslot to do something that both the clients and I love to do – talk about sports!”

Our clients love to talk about sports and Eric takes his volunteer role to heart. Recently the conversation drifted to hockey helmets and the next week during Sports Talk Eric brought in photos showing how helmets have changed over time. I also asked Eric what he has enjoyed most about his Friday Sports Talk at Lifeworks and he said,

“I have enjoyed meeting the staff and interacting with the clients. Whether it’s the receptionist at the front desk or an individual I pass in the hallway, everyone has a smile on their face or exudes a sense of happiness. I’ve enjoyed the sense of happiness that is felt even after I leave to go back to work. Maybe it’s simply that the weekend is near, but I know it’s more. I have that feeling of satisfaction that I’ve helped put a smile on someone’s face as a result of Sports Talk and the discussions that took place.”

Our clients love having Eric so I know there is a huge benefit for us but what about Eric? I wondered if he thinks there is a benefit for him. Here is what he said,

“In the limited time I have spent with Lifeworks, I have to summarize my experiences by saying that these individuals may be some of the most inspirational people I have ever met. There are so may little things that are taken for granted in the normal daily routines of our lives. The clients that I’ve met so far have disabilities which amount to additional challenges for both the individual and their family’s daily routines. It’s remarkable to witness how those challenges are met, even though it is accomplished with the help of others at many times. I may never know how I would overcome such challenges, but it is obvious that Lifeworks is providing opportunities for its clients to be involved in the community in ways that are beneficial to them and the everyday world in which we live.”

Thank you Eric for making time in your day to share with us something you love, hockey, football, basketball, baseball – sports of all sorts.

How about you? Do you have a hobby or interest that you would be willing to share? I can guarantee that there is someone here at Lifeworks who would love your company and who knows we might just be across the street.

Please call me at 651-365-3720 or send me an email, kpengelly@lifeworks.org

www.lifeworks.org

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