I envy my mother’s social life.

She’s not Snooki on Jersey Shore, partying her days away. And she’s not a socialite alternating weekends between Palm Beach and Milan. What she is is somewhere north of...let’s say 60 with a rock-solid group of good friends who share good times and tough times and lots of laughs and occasional tears. It’s a beautiful thing.

The more I think about it, the more I realize that the whole large circle—a group that met for the most part 40-plus years ago—formed around raising kids and volunteering together.

Sound familiar?

For those of us currently deep in the weeds with the kids and the jobs and the volunteering, maybe that’s another silver lining of these busy days we make for ourselves. These other crazy people doing all this volunteering may just become lifelong friends, with bonds formed from shared experiences and a shared passion for doing good and sometimes difficult work.

Someday, when the kids are grown and the school volunteering is done, we might be vacationing with that PTO vice president or watching a Super Bowl with the other guy who manned a grill at the Fall Fiesta. It may not be glamorous, but these crazy days are the building blocks of so much more. And not just for our kids.

For my mom and dad and their crew in our small town, it wasn’t PTO or PTA volunteering; it was a group called the Jaycees (the Junior Chamber of Commerce). As I recall it growing up, there wasn’t a lot of commerce going on with the Jaycees, but there was a ton of volunteering (the Jaycees were the key labor and fundraising force for most grassroots projects in our community for decades). And there were meetings. And there were definitely good times and family events and adult socials.

The whole gang had kids roughly the same age; they lived in the same town; many attended the same church—they raised their families together. Of course, there were hundreds of other families in town, but these several dozen couples grew especially close.

That volunteering gene was the common denominator. I don’t necessarily think that volunteering together is a magic bullet of friendship. It certainly takes a lot more than that. But aren’t our best friends typically folks who share a general outlook on life and priorities? If you’ve chosen to get really involved in your school community, odds are that you have a lot in common with other people who do the same.

Want another silver lining? That crazy volunteering gene is hereditary. When I look at the now-grown kids who used to tag along at all those volunteer events, I see a bunch of good people who themselves now pitch in for their own communities. At our PTO Expos every year, I always ask how many of our PTO and PTA leaders in attendance had parents who volunteered at school. Yup—almost every hand goes up.

My simple advice is to embrace and develop and celebrate this additional important part of volunteering. Don’t just make it about your fundraising results or how many parents show up to your meetings. Rather, spend some time and attention cultivating the personal side, as well. Social connections are certainly good for us as individual volunteers, but they also make our group more attractive to prospective volunteers. If we’re having fun and making friends, others will want to join, too.

I love the fact that my kids see my wife and me volunteering, just as I watched my mom and dad do the same. I hope they pick up the tradition and run with it in their own way. I also hope that 30 years from now, they’re as envious of my good friends and social life as I am of my mom’s. If I am so lucky, I bet many of those good friends will be folks I met around the school. And that will be just another great benefit of this school volunteering stuff we do so much of.