by Diane Forrest, RN
A volunteer is someone who works on behalf of others or a particular cause without payment for their time and services. There are infinite areas in which you can volunteer your services. You don't have to wait until you are retired, or married, or have children. Anytime is a good time. Many people say I just don't have any time to volunteer.
In my experience the more responsibilities you have in your life, the more you can add to those responsibilities. I come from a long line of volunteers. My grandparents were active in their church, my grandmother helped at the prisons by grading papers and with the voting polls. My father worked with boy scouts and city organizations, my mother with the schools. I began early on being a candy stripier and working with the orphanages and church, and my son also began early with scouts and church and even went out of the country on two mission trips to Bolivia when he was just 14! You can volunteer weekly, monthly, or anytime. If you are skilled in a certain area you can use your skill to find a useful area to help your fellow man. For example:
- If you are a teacher you can volunteer some tutoring time in the afternoons or evenings.
- If you are a medical person you can use your skills to teach a first aid or CPR course. You can give lectures at schools or senior citizen centers. Perform blood pressure checks at health fairs.
- If construction is your area of expertise you can work with Habitat for humanity.
- Even if you don’t think you have any skills there are still hundreds of ways to volunteer.
- If you like animals, you can volunteer at your local animal shelter by walking the animals, giving baths, sweeping out the cages.
- If you like children you can volunteer to keep a nursery at church, or baby-sit for a neighbor or friend.
- If hosting parties is your thing, you can organize a fundraiser for a charity of your choice.
- To start volunteering, first decide what you would like to do. Check with your employer or co-workers. Ask if they have a certain charity they support or know of any organization that needs help.
- Call your church or local schools, offer to volunteer in any areas they need help.
- Contact local charities like Red Cross or meals on wheels, senior citizen centers or children's homes.
- Contact your local newspaper or chamber of commerce.
- Once you make yourself available to help, people will be calling you!
Benefits of volunteering
When you volunteer to do a task, not only do you improve the quality of human life, but you improve your quality of life too. Some benefits include employer recognition, resume' recognition, community recognition, having fun, meeting new people and maybe even a free lunch! The main benefit gained from being a volunteer is having a sense of personal satisfaction.
We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give. ~Winston Churchill
Good reference material:
National Volunteer Week 2011 Resource Guide
Resource Center, Tools and training for volunteer and service programs
Points of Light Institute