Outside of my day-to-day work in commercial real estate, I have also had the privilege of being involved in a number of different areas within my local Washington D.C. community—everything from working with 4th and 5th graders at a local elementary school, to volunteering at Martha’s Table, a D.C.-based non-profit that helps distribute healthy food to families in the area.
Over time, I’ve found increasing connection points between my community work and my commercial real estate career. For example, my involvement in Martha’s Table was actually sparked by a colleague, and quickly turned into an activity I now do regularly.
From Out of Office Activities to Lifelong Passions & Skills
The Upcounty Citizens Advisory Board (UCAB) represents approximately 340,000 residents in the northern area of Montgomery County, Maryland, and acting as the Quality of Life Chair and Executive Vice Chair of its board has allowed me to act as a liaison for community members, advocate to local decisionmakers on critical quality of life concerns and sharpen my focus on the overwhelming local and national need for safe and affordable housing. This experience has not only broadened my perspective—and illuminated a new interest of mine in helping to find a solution to the affordable housing crisis—but it has also allowed me to forge new connections with others working toward this common cause.
COVID-19 has certainly changed the way that all of us work and live, and particularly how active we are able to be outside of “the office.” Reflecting on some of the past community volunteering I’ve done, another favorite experience of mine has been my time spent at local nursing homes and with elderly individuals. These experiences have introduced me to many different types of people, with varying backgrounds and the occasional language barrier. Because of these hurdles, I’d say these interactions have allowed me to become a more efficient communicator—I’ve learned that both verbal and nonverbal communication skills can make a critical difference in my ability to “read a room” or understand people in a business environment.
Stop, Smell and Then Bring the Roses With You
Throughout all my volunteering experiences, there is one key takeaway I have found: Take the time. Take the time to get to know people, take the time to build those relationships and most of all take the time to make the community where you live and work a better place. After all, you never know who could become a client, friend or coworker down the road. I’ve found that giving your time will always bring you new lessons, gifts, connections and experiences.
If you are interested in getting involved in your local community but aren’t quite sure how, I’d encourage you to talk to your colleagues. It might surprise you to find out how many people in your current network are already involved in some form of community engagement, and if they aren’t, I’m sure they’d love to join you on this journey.
-Hassan Dixon, Associate Director