Tips on Volunteering
by Independent Sector
Research the cause or issues important to you. Look for a group that works with issues about which you feel strongly. Rally your neighbors to clean up that vacant lot on the corner, paint an elderly neighbor’s house, take turns keeping an eye on the ailing person down the street, or form a group to advocate for a remedy to that dangerous intersection in your neighborhood. There is no end to the creative avenues for volunteering, just as there is no end to the need for volunteers.
Consider the skills you have to offer or learn something new. If you enjoy outdoor work, have a knack for teaching, or just enjoy interacting with people, you may want to look for volunteer work that can incorporate these aspects of your personality. Many positions require specific talents such as computer skills or accounting experience. Or consider seeking a volunteer opportunity where you’ll learn something new. For example, volunteering to work on the newsletter for the local animal shelter will improve your writing and editing abilities—skills that may help you in your career.
Combine your goals. Look for volunteer opportunities that will also help you achieve other life goals. For example, if you want to lose weight, pick an active activity, such as cleaning a park or working with kids. Or, if you’ve been meaning to take a cooking class, try volunteering at a food bank or a school that teaches cooking skills.
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? See whether the organization will start you out on a limited number of hours until you get the feel of things.
Consider volunteering as a family. Think about volunteer opportunities suitable for parents and children to do together, or for a couple to take on as a team. When a family volunteers to work together at a nonprofit organization, the experience can bring them closer together and teach children the value of giving back to their community.
Virtual volunteering. Yes, there is such a thing! If you have computer access and the necessary skills, some organizations offer the opportunity to volunteer using your home computer. This could entail giving free legal advice, typing a term-paper for a person with a disability, or simply keeping in contact with a shut-in who has email. This type of volunteering is great for people with limited time, no transportation, or a physical disability which precludes you from getting around freely.
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.
To volunteer for the City of Fairfield, please contact Karen Rees, program coordinator, at 707.428.7767.