Grand: Huffington Stresses Importance of Volunteer Work

Arianna Huffington Speech Photo (Photo by Candice Silva)

Arianna Huffington delivers a speech in Chicago
on volunteer work. (Photo by Candice Silva)

Grand Stop IconBy Candice Silva
The Red Line Project

Posted: Sunday, Feb. 20, 2011

Less than two weeks after her startup online media venture sold for $315 million to AOL, Arianna Huffington stepped to a microphone at a Chicago charity event to deliver a speech on the importance of volunteering.

Huffington spoke Feb. 17 at Women on Call's fifth annual Meet & Match event at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Chicago. Women On Call is a free online networking organization that connects non-profits that have special volunteer opportunities with thousands of women who also want to share their professional skills with hundreds of non-profit organizations.

The Huffington Post, which Huffington co-founded in 2005, aggregates online content and publishes blogs by hundreds of volunteer writers, including celebrities such as John Cusack.

“There is something in our DNA which drives us for meaning, which drives us to give back and which drives us to transcend us," Huffington said. "And if we don’t honor that, we are never going to be truly fulfilled. If we do decide to honor that, no matter how many difficulties we are facing, we will be able to sustain ourselves. By helping others, we are in touch with something more powerful than what we could ever imagine.” 

Besides being a co-founder, Huffington is editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post. After the AOL purchase, she was named president of The Huffington Post Media Group. She said she is very passionate about her work, which is one of the main reasons she decided to speak at the Chicago event.

Margot Pritzker, founder of Women on Call, formally introduced Huffington at the start of the event, mentioning how she enjoys helping others and is a good friend among many.

“It was Arianna’s idea to blog about Women On Call on The Huffington Post," Pritzker said. “She wanted to launch our name out there and let more people know what we do. Arianna is a woman who walks the talk. She supports women and good causes. She is a good friend to many of us.”

After Pritzker’s introduction, Huffington walked to the podium as the room filled with buzz.. As she introduced the organization to the audience, she also discussed the benefits of volunteering and how it can bring out a positive side in people.

Women on Call Event

The Hyatt Hotel on East Wacker Drive hosted
the Women on Call event. (Photo by Candice Silva)

Huffington referenced The Huffington Post in terms of volunteering, and how it can be beneficial for people to work with non-profits.

 “We have a section on ‘The Huffington Post’ called Impact, which constantly covers community service opportunities,” she said. “It always shows how people have helped in small ways within their community, and also inspires others to volunteer.  Anyone who wants to write for their non-profit should contact my editor [Jennifer Sabella] and it will be published on the website. You never know who is going to read it, who may be inspired by it and who may want to be a part of it as well.”

Huffington also  talked about difficult times, focusing on her daughter’s eating disorder and how it deeply affected her life. She suggested to her daughter how volunteer work may help turn her life around in a positive way.

Huffington said it gave her daughter a different perspective of all of the troubles she was dealing with in her own life. It made her realize that all the problems that she thought were awful, such as her weight and grades, were all very small compared to what others were going through.

“This is the moment where we break out the best in us," Huffington said. "We are not just affecting our own lives and those of the lives we are helping. We are creating a cultivating force for good. In especially difficult times of economic anxiety, like the times we are living through now, this is why the cultivating force is more important than ever.

“Among the 27 million people that are unemployed or underemployed, I encourage them to give back as well. It is amazing to see those people transform how they see themselves. Instead of seeing themselves as victims, they will begin to look at themselves as contributors.”

Huffington said she believes our society is in a time of transition, which is why she continues to stress volunteer work.

“You may look around and wonder, ‘what can I do?' " she said. "If you ever doubted the power of just even effecting one person or one thing and to have a big impact, you have never been in bed with a mosquito.

“People continue to focus on what is not working, their disfunctionalities. What we are doing here is focusing on what is working, what is best about us and our desire to help each other. For this, I am deeply grateful.”

Arianna Huffington Photo (Photo by Candice Silva)

Margot Pritzker (left) poses with Arianna Huffington,
founder of The Huffington Post. (Photo by Candice Silva)

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