Since it is the beginning of the new year I have decided as my New Years resolution to get more people interested in volunteering. I feel that volunteering is an amazing, life altering experience that not only helps others but makes a difference, allows you to expand your horizons, and connect with your community. There is no other activity in life that could give you more of a natural high afterwards. I personally love to volunteer because I always meet new, interesting, genuine people who I get to share the experience with.
So, how does one find a volunteer opportunity?
1. Well there are an extreme amounts of volunteer opportunities in every area. The trick is to find a cause that resonates with you. You want to make sure that what your volunteering for has issues in which your strong about. For instance if you are concerned about teens living in low-income housing and about their well-being and education then you could volunteer at Cabrini Connections.
2. Everyone has different skills, so, use them. If you enjoy outdoor work, have a knack for teaching, or just enjoy interacting with people, you may want to look for volunteer work which would incorporate these aspects of your personality. If you are not a people person you may try doing something else for the organization, such as possibly incorporating what you do on the job during your work day for the organization (if you believe it will be beneficial), for instance, some people who prefer to be behind the scenes could do data entry, web design, write blogs about the organization, or even come up with ways to market the organization. There are always so many ways in which to help an organization, don't ever feel that you cannot help.
3. Are you bored of what you already know? Learn a new skill. Consider seeking a volunteer opportunity where you'll learn something new. For example, volunteering to work on the newsletter for Cabrini Connections
will improve your writing and editing abilities-skills that may help you in your career. Or, volunteering can simply offer a change from your daily routine. For example, if your full-time job is in an office, you may decide to take on a more active volunteer assignment, such as helping teens write their resumes or apply to college. Many nonprofits seek out people who are willing to learn. Realize beforehand, however, that such work might require a time commitment for training before the actual volunteer assignment begins.
4. Don't over commit your schedule. Make sure the volunteer hours you want to give fit into your hectic life, so that you don't frustrate your family, exhaust yourself, shortchange the organization you're trying to help or neglect your job. Do you want a long-term assignment or something temporary? If you are unsure about your availability, or want to see how the work suits you before making an extensive commitment, contact the organization and see whether they will start you out on a limited number of hours until you get the feel of things. Better to start out slowly than to commit yourself to a schedule you can't - or don't want to fulfill.
5. Give voice to your heart through your giving and volunteering! Bring your heart and your sense of humor to your volunteer service, along with your enthusiastic spirit, which in itself is a priceless gift. What you'll get back will be immeasurable! To the millions of people who volunteer and give, thank you. Just imagine what more could do.
And remember volunteering is not only good for the heart but its good for the soul also.
Jordan E. Merlo