Paying it Forward: Sharif Burdzik

Volunteer of the Week

Sharif Burdzik, courtesy Aevum Images

Name: Sharif Burdzik

Current employer or place of business: Riverview Community Bank

Organization(s) I volunteer with: New Day Community Dental Clinic; Clark County Skills Center Foundation; Leadership Clark County; Friends of the Elder Justice Center; Hazel Dell/Salmon Creek Business Association; WSU-V; City of Vancouver.

How I got involved: After a brief time working in downtown Portland, I returned to Clark County in 2005 and was asked to join the board of the Hazel Dell/Salmon Creek Business Association. My first assignment was to help the organization coordinate the Hazel Dell Parade of Bands. Over time, I simply followed my passions, including several years on the Salvation Army Advisory Board, and co-founding the Fourth Plain International Festival.

Why I give back: It is extremely important to me to be deeply involved with the community. I enjoy making mutually-beneficial connections between others. For myself, board service and volunteer work provide me with the opportunity to engage with the community and others who have similar passions.

Proudest moment as a volunteer: Building and maintaining relationships is a top priority for me, so most of my volunteer experiences center around people. It is difficult to select just one moment, but I’d have to say working on the City of Vancouver’s task forces evaluating possible changes to the structures of the Vancouver Fire Department and the Vancouver Police Department were definite high points. Working with City officials, Fire Department and Police Department officials and community leaders to create a comprehensive evaluation and plan created a true sense of accomplishment for me and provided a benefit to the community.

What local challenge or issue are you most passionate about? Right now, my primary passion is making sure that the educational choices available to our youth are in alignment with the career choices available for them to grown into engaged, fulfilled and self-sufficient contributors to our community. In my mind, this means that we must have options that provide the technical skills that are in demand, not only a one-size-fits-all approach. We have people buckling under the burden of student loan debt for degrees that provide no marketable skills, while employers continue to struggle to find the employees with the technical skills that are in demand. Education and the real world should work in concert, and all youth in our community should have access to programs that build the skills they need to be competitive in the workplace. I’m proud to work with organizations like our school districts, the Skills Center, Clark College and WSU-V, who are making some real strides to address this challenge.

Just for fun: What are your hidden talents? I studied classical piano for over 12 years, culminating in a concerto with the local civic symphony back in Kansas, my home state. I continued to play occasionally for my parents before their passing, but I have not played for anyone else in the last 15 years, ensuring my talent remains hidden.

“Paying it Forward: Volunteer Businessperson of the Week” is sponsored by Pacific Continental Bank.