After 45 years accumulating business experience, Dennis Wright decided to stay engaged after his retirement by sharing that knowledge with others.
"You miss the day-to-day action of being in business," he said. "You can only mow the lawn and play golf so many times."
So about three years ago, Wright joined the approximately 100 active members of the Orange County chapter of SCORE, a nonprofit connected with the U.S. Small Business Administration run almost exclusively by volunteers.
"I wanted to do something that would allow me to stay engaged in business and the idea of being able to share what I've learned with other people has been very rewarding," he said.
The chapter—the largest in the nationwide network—offers free or low-cost counseling, mentoring and workshops for OC businesspeople.
Now Wright, the chapter's new chairman, is pushing for more people to offer their time and expertise to the organization to bolster its efforts on behalf of small businesses in Orange County.
“The volunteers at SCORE are a diverse group of men and women who come from all kinds of fields and backgrounds,” he said. “But whether they were chemists, ice cream store owners, executive assistants, or management consultants like me, we all share a passion to help others enjoy success in their business endeavors.”
The chapter is in constant need of members to provide additional operational support, he said.
At the moment, SCORE is looking for people with experience with social media, Internet marketing, operations and event logistics, finance and banking, and website development. Volunteers need to be computer literate and able to use Microsoft Office.
“From manning the office phones and recording meeting minutes to creating special SCORE events and training new members, there are numerous exciting ways to get involved with us,” Wright said. “And if you are looking for a rewarding way to stay connected to the business world and share your expertise with the next Donald Trump or Rachael Ray, then I promise you’ve come to the right place!”
But volunteers don't necessarily need to be retired, he added.
"One of the things that I'd like to clarify is that a lot of folks seem to think that if I volunteer for SCORE than I need to be retired and looking to remain engaged," he said. "This is the case with a number of our volunteers, but there's also an opportunity for people who aren't retired but are looking to donate their time to help small businesses succeed."
Many of the positions available through SCORE allow volunteers to meet 1-on-1 with businesspeople to share advice.
But there are also a range of behind-the-scenes opportunities.
Wright stressed that the chapter needs people who are “doers” for a multitude of tasks. For the workshops alone, SCORE needs volunteers to secure dates, recruit speakers, determine topics at some 20 different locations, manage the public postings of the workshop schedule to the website, supervise an individual workshop location and, finally, report results using Excel.
The chapter puts on about 250 workshops annually throughout the county, from as far south as San Juan Capistrano up to the Fullerton area, Wright said.
"If you bring a special skill that you'd like to share with others, we'll see if we can find a place where you can make that contribution," he said. "People who are looking to devote time to something that's very satisying, very rewarding ... can [volunteer for] just a day or two a month, or a few hours each week, in some cases."
But volunteers looking to market themselves or their for-profit services for profit are not a good fit for the organization, Wright cautioned.
"It's all about helping the small businesses grow," he said. "Ultimately, that's going to create jobs, and that's what we're all trying to do this in this economy."
And prospective volunteers don't need to worry about a specific opportunity in which they are interested being taken, he said.
"There's no cap on membership, so you don't have to worry about a job position being filled," he siad. "We're always needing new people, new talent."
To get involved, visit www.score411.org and click on "Become a Volunteer" for an application.