Why Giving Back Empowers Me
June 14, 2019
By Kraig Puccia, 2019 Penn Mutual Life of Significance Award Winner
At the 2019 Penn Mutual Collegiate Rugby Championship I was fortunate enough to receive the fifth annual Life of Significance Award from Penn Mutual’s Chairman and CEO, Eileen McDonnell. As one of nineteen nominees and one of three finalists, I was amongst a group of talented and compassionate individuals. Each of the other nominees embody the values of integrity, respect, and loyalty—values that members of the rugby community display on a consistent basis. Any one of us could have been named the winner.
Since being named the winner of the award, I have gotten a lot of questions about why I choose to give back to the community. For me the answer is simple. I enjoy doing it and it is empowering to do so.
From an early age, I learned from my parents, particularly my mother, that helping other people was not a means to be recognized but what was the right thing to do. My mother spent a lot of time taking care of sick family members and I was able to see at a young age how your actions can better the lives of others.
As part of Fordham’s Global Outreach Program I was able to spend time in Bethel, Alaska helping combat domestic violence issues that plague the community. At Fordham we like to say, you don’t pick your mission, it picks you. I did not have any connection to domestic violence prior to my trip, but as it turns out, I was able to apply the things I learned to an internship with the Queens District Attorney’s Office working on similar issues.
From my experiences volunteering, I have been able to learn and grow as a human being. These volunteer opportunities have challenged me and taken me out of my comfort zone. I was able to see issues that are impacting communities all over the world and help make real, tangible change. That is empowering.
I am now working with the Veterans Advocacy Project, a program connected to the Urban Justice Center, which does pro-bono work for neglected veterans throughout New York City. I hope that this experience also allows me to come out of my comfort zone and impact the lives of others,
I never thought my passion for helping others would give me notoriety or make me an award winner. I am grateful to be recognized with this award but at the same time I have never thought of myself as “living a life of significance.” Everything I have done was done because it was just the right thing to do and allows me to make an impact on the world.