Susan (bottom right) with our current DISCOVERBOOKKEEPING Computerized Accounting Class.
Community Spotlight: Susan Goscewski is one of TBKC’s most dedicated volunteers and we would like our readers and the rest of the world to know how valuable she has become to us at TBKC. Since July 2010, Susan has been volunteering at TBKC as a tutor for DISCOVERBOOKKEEPING (DB) participants. From her expertise in her knowledge of the nonprofit industry and bookkeeping to her patience and clear explanations, Susan is the ideal tutor in helping our participants better understand the fundamentals of bookkeeping and computerized accounting software. This month, we interviewed her to gain insight on her experience so far as a volunteer at TBKC.
How did you hear about TBKC?
It was a perfect example of networking — as well as some luck. I was nearing the completion of my studies in bookkeeping and letting friends and acquaintances know I wanted to become more involved in the field. One of them had attended an accounting technology fair and picked up a brochure from The Bookkeeping Center, which she sent to me with the suggestion to look into it, in particular because it offered volunteer opportunities. I checked the website and then called to introduce myself. I later learned from Tom that TBKC was the only nonprofit organization at the fair, and he had attended it to build awareness of the organization.
What motivated you to become a volunteer at TBKC?
The mission of TBKC appeals to me strongly and I liked the idea of supporting it, of getting involved. Especially in the economic times we are currently experiencing, I’m convinced that the kind of work TBKC does is vital to individuals and society alike. At the same time, I have personal work objectives, and I believed TBKC would give me exposure to the bookkeeping field and help me learn in a hands-on way more about the practice and its participants. Experts say that volunteering is a good way to see what it’s like to work in a particular setting, and I agree.
What are your personal goals for volunteering?
I want to be useful to the organization and the people it serves, first and foremost. (I choose organizations that speak to my values or a shared sense of what’s important in life.) I’ve done some volunteering for organizations that simply needed to have tasks done (I’ve never licked envelopes, but it’s been close). In those cases, I added to my life experiences but not necessarily to my personal skill bank, yet the organization needed someone to do the work. But most of the time, I also want the volunteer experience to contribute to the growth and development of my own skills, knowledge and understanding — and those of the people I’m serving as I volunteer, if possible. Like a job (and I think volunteering should be considered in that way), the best volunteer experience for me involves both challenge and reward. There’s no monetary reward with volunteering, no “typical” way of measuring the value of the time and skills you expend. I think my reward comes both from the fact that I have pushed myself to do something “more” and the sense that I have helped the people I’m engaged with.
What is your most memorable experience with TBKC?
There are a few (including the graduation ceremony this spring), but it is On Top of Success, which was the lovely event that was held in conjunction with Maurice’s 60th birthday — not so much because Maurice turned 60 (no one believes it anyway) but because it was a gathering of many of the individuals who have come to play a part in TBKC’s life. It was an opportunity to talk with board members, staff, alumni, current students, clients and friends. I got to know those who were current students more personally (Maria and her husband from Poland, Hector from Colombia, Kushal from India) and met Becky, an alumna who was building up her freelancing services as a bookkeeper. I also met Lolita for the first time and was astounded by Mathew’s event coordination. It was a wonderful time.
What did you like most as a TBKC volunteer?
My volunteer role with TBKC was as a tutor for the manual bookkeeping class. I loved working with the students who came for the study group sessions. They were deeply interested in learning, understanding, and improving. It was a challenge at times to explain bookkeeping terms and practices and words used for business transactions to those who are new to the subject and oftentimes to American language, as well, but when the concepts took hold, it was a delight to see.
Describe your transition from a volunteer to a bookkeeper for TBKC.
I was thrilled when given the chance to “shadow” Maurice with one of his clients. I had been told by placement agencies that “learning” (or teaching) bookkeeping is not the same as “doing” it. Now that I have a bit of experience, I have to agree that it’s true. Why? Because there are a lot of specifics related to a business operation that theory doesn’t directly address. There’s truth to the phrase — “the proof is in the pudding,” and when it comes to bookkeeping, the proof is in the application of theory to real life. I was happy to observe Maurice over several visits as he handled the client’s transactions. When he finally said he thought I’d be fine on my own, I still wasn’t sure. But I took notes, I worked carefully and thoughtfully, and I followed up on places where I had questions. Maurice gave me help when I called on him. And I feel I’m doing fine with the client — taking on additional work and gaining the trust of the business owner. I have to say that working in bookkeeping is the next vital step after learning it, and I applaud TBKC for its work with its partner organization, The Bookkeeping Company, to find internships and other bookkeeping work opportunities for the students. I think that together they’ll produce a workforce of terrific bookkeepers.
TBKC genuinely appreciates the time and effort Susan has spent to help train our participants into becoming successful and competent bookkeepers.
If you’re interested in becoming a volunteer for TBKC, please email our Volunteer Coordinator, Dwight Williams.