I greet you all well as we enter what I know will be an exciting, and hopefully very productive, new year for the Chemical Society of Washington! My greatest wish for the new year is to get more of you, our members, actively involved in our activities in some fashion. CSW organizes and supports an array of important activities that promote the chemical community, but all of these activities depend upon the work of volunteers to be brought to fruition. Far too often, the same small group of dedicated souls bears the burden of one event after another. While we should all celebrate this dedication and thank them for their devotion, such is not the path to a stable future. In over a decade on the CSW Board, I have seen too many instances where an excellent program withered because one core volunteer retired or left the region and no one was left to pick up the ball and continue forward. We need you to help us build the deep bench that will allow us to stay in the game through whatever trials the universe throws at us.
This does not mean having to carve large blocks of time out of your already busy schedules. Many of our programs are relatively brief, but intense, annual events, such as support for the Chemathon held annually at the University of Maryland, or helping recruit summer mentors for disadvantaged high school students selected to participate in Project SEED. On the other hand, we regularly receive requests for one-off support for STEM demos, lectures, project judging and the like from schools, Scout troops, and similar entities . Sadly, we sometimes have to turn away these requests because we simply do not have someone available for the necessary time and location. Volunteering one or two Saturday afternoons a year can help demonstrate the excitement and value of chemistry to young audiences. There is nothing quite like watching the fascination in a child’s eyes when you show them how an M&M is put together simply by soaking it in hot water and carefully watching what happens! Please keep an eye on our websites (http://www.capitalchemist.org/ and csw.sites.acs.org) for upcoming volunteer opportunities. If you are planning a science-based event where volunteers from CSW might be able to help, please send an e-mail to email@example.com with the subject line “Request for Volunteers”. At some point this year, I hope we will be able to have a moderated volunteer request function added to the Capital Chemist website. There is one major item coming up this year that will require special volunteer efforts — the Fall ACS National Meeting, which will be held in August in DC. We are already holding preliminary discussions with various departments at ACS and within CSW to plan a number of outreach and social events that might be held in association with the meeting. While ACS has the necessary money, CSW would need to provide the people (that’s you!). Be on the lookout for calls for volunteers on both websites as we move into spring. Without strong volunteer support, these events will not be possible.
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to serve as CSW President for 2017. With so many upcoming volunteer opportunities, I hope I get the privilege of meeting many new faces throughout the year. CSW is better and stronger when there are more of us working toward the common goal of supporting the chemical community in the DC area, and if you have any ideas for how to make our section, its activities, or its programs better, please reach out and send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org . I hope that — together — we can make it a productive and successful year for both CSW and its members.
–Jason Schaff, 2017 CSW President