It’s Alex Butterfield’s birthday tomorrow, but he’s celebrating early.
In January, the 29-year-old tasked himself to complete 30 charitable causes by his 30th birthday.
He met his mark last month.
“I thought it was a realistic and attainable goal with all of the charities and causes on the island,” Mr Butterfield told Lifestyle.
“Normally I’m very disciplined and focused when putting my mind to any task. I was happy to see it through with time to spare.”
Using his phone to keep notes, he would list the charities he had coming up for the month and mark each completed one with a picture attached.
“That’s what helped me keep track,” he said.
“If I did three every month I knew I would meet my target by November.”
Some months he fell short; others he exceeded.
“I was studying for an exam during the summer so I devoted more time to that. There were other months that I completed four or five and that made up the difference.”
He counted cash on Pride’s tag day; joined the Bermuda Sloop Foundation’s Pirates of Bermuda fundraising event; did a KBB clean-up in Southampton; became a human bowling ball for an Xtreme Sports fundraiser and finished runner-up in Relay for Life’s basketball tournament.
“A lot can be achieved without having to give money,” he said. “People need help around the office; clean-ups come with all the supplies — they just need hands. Most events took no more than three or four hours.
“A lot of them were outside work hours. I was able to do the tag day on my lunch break. You’ve got to find out what works for you. If you talk with the charities they can be very flexible about meeting your schedule. It doesn’t have to conflict with work.
“People make time for what’s important to them. If it’s important enough, and the cause has enough meaning and purpose for you in your life, you’ll find an hour or two to spare.”
Giving gave him a better understanding of the island’s needs.
“One charity new to me was the Lupus Association,” he said. “They had a bowling night and needed people to help with set-up, check in and registration.
“I had known people with lupus, but I got to know more about the disease and how it affects people. Going out bowling was a big deal for many of them. The disease can make it difficult for them to go out.”
Another standout was a literacy programme at CedarBridge Academy.
“I would go for half an hour a week to help with writing and reading,” he said. “That really meant a lot to me to be able to invest in another young male.”
He hopes to continue the programme at TN Tatem Middle School, next year.
“I got to see and do a lot of things throughout the year,” said Mr Butterfield, who finished his challenge with time to spare on October 6.
That day, he volunteered for an event at Heron Bay Primary School, where he was once a student.
“At high school you had to get your community hours,” said the former Warwick Academy student who works at Butterfield Bank.
“There was also a community service requirement when I was training at the bank but this was just something initiated by me that I wanted to do. I have a lot of material things and experience in life and this is something priceless I can give to others.”
He said he gets his focus and discipline from his family.
“We have a construction business, Butterfield Excavation. Physical labour, meeting deadlines and all of that — I owe a lot of that to my dad, David Butterfield. I get my work ethic from him.”
He said his spiritual values have also motivated him.
“I hold Bible studies in my home, but I wanted to be more intentional as far as going out and serving the community,” he said,
“When we look back on our lives, what will we or others say about what we’ve done? With the resources and what we’ve been given, how have we been able to influence others for good and make Bermuda a better place? We each can do our part and this is mine.”
He said his efforts were met with gratitude.
“When The Royal Gazette article about what I was doing first came out, I got calls from friends, family, clients and colleagues at the bank,” he recalled.
“I was very encouraged and inspired. It was all very positive and supportive.”
His wife Alanna made sure his milestone birthday wasn’t ignored. She surprised him, flying his mother in from Toronto.