Choosing a Project
There is a revived spirit of volunteerism in the United States, inspired by President Barack Obama. Of course, volunteers have always been working hard, but now more people are feeling that it is time for them to get involved with problems they care about.
Whether you have one hour a week or one day a year to give, here are five tips to help you find a great and rewarding volunteer opportunity:
- Decide for what problem or issue you want to volunteer.
- Do you feel strongly about a particular problem or issue? Just thinking, "Oh, well, volunteering would be a nice thing to do" isn't really enough. You might start, but will you stick with it? If you feel strongly about something, such as animals, homelessness, conservation, poverty/hunger issues, or helping children, then that is a very good sign and the start of a great volunteer experience.
- Think about how much time you can devote to volunteering.
- Do you want something that is short and infrequent? Or could you donate a certain amount of time each week or month? Student Community Service can help you find the best fit based on your available schedule. There are volunteer opportunities that can fit any time commitment, from being a an assistant Girl Scout leader for a school year to registering attendees at a charity event for a few hours. Local non-profit organizations have become quite adept at helping meet the needs of a volunteer’s schedule.
- Look for a volunteer opportunity that will be fulfilling for you.
- Volunteer work should not be entirely selfless. It is important that you enjoy what you are doing so that you will continue doing it. Think about what you like to do. Are you a "take-charge" kind of person? If so, look for leadership opportunities at non-profits, such as helping plan a project with Student Community Service, helping with fundraising, or coordinating volunteers at an event.
- On the other hand, perhaps you are looking for a chance to simply lend a hand. Volunteers are needed in so many ways and areas! Maybe you would enjoy cleaning up a vacant lot, working at a local garden or signing people up for a charity run.
- Match your skills with the volunteer opportunity.
- Make a list of the things you are good at. Share that list with the volunteer coordinators with whom you speak at the non-profits as well as the staff at Student Community Service. People who are sophisticated with computers, for instance, are in high demand at non-profits. Perhaps you have the ability to do detailed work such as meticulous record keeping. Maybe yours is a hands-on skill like carpentery or sewing, or perhaps you have a talent with the written word or public speaking.
- Be open to the changes, especially in yourself, that volunteering will bring.
- Dealing with new and different situations, including meeting new people from different backgrounds and cultures, my present a challenge. Your stereotypes will surely crumble as you witness the dignity of all people, no matter their circumstances. These challenges are healthy ones and will result in your own personal — as long as you are open to learning rather than run away at the first glimpse at life as others live it.