How to be a Good Volunteer

Volunteering is such a rewarding experience. Giving your time, energy and skills to a good cause whether its just an hour or two a day,  a week or even once a year, is awesome and I highly recommend it. I think its important to find the time in our hectic lives to get involved with something that we care about. It serves as a reminder that we are all living and struggling in this crazy world together and even just a small act can make a big difference in someone’s life.

First: Find something you are passionate about. It could be working with kids or animals, cleaning up the beach or park or working at a local event.

Second: Decide how much time you want to commit. Some of us have more time than others but anytime you can give of yourself is worthwhile and makes a difference.

I started volunteering right after college. I signed up to help at community events, local clean-up projects, meals on wheels and then I became a Let’s Read Volunteer for the city library. I love the library and am in love with books. I remember when my Dad used to read to me as a kid which I believe has led me to become the avid reader I am today. I am so thankful for that experience. I try to give back as much I can by reading to kids whether they have it home or not. I signed up for the Let’s Read program at my local library and was assigned to visit a classroom at a local elementary school once a week for six weeks and read out loud to a class room of first graders for one hour. I was a little nervous at first but when I got there, the kids were so cute and welcoming and so well-behaved and we had so much fun together. The teacher liked it too because she got a little break in the day but she was always present in the room in case any of the students got out of hand.

I would read 5 or 6 books out loud or we would all read together. I would even make funny noises and give the characters in the books silly voices. Then we would sing songs and do little dances in between stories (because you know 6 year-olds and even us adults can get a little antsy at times ; ) I always made sure they were enjoying themselves and staying engaged. Sometimes they would even ask me to read the same story again and we would talk about the lessons they learned from the book so they were learning as well.

That was such a rewarding experience and I am so glad I had the time to do it. I know they enjoyed it too. On my last day they presented me with a card and a cute little Christmas cactus that I still own to this day : )

Currently, I volunteer at the city library once a week. We have such a beautiful library here where I live. I love visiting it and I try and help them out as much as I can. These days I am helping out in the kidspace center by getting them prepared for their summer programs. I am helping them by assembling all of their crafts for their interactive time travel room!!! I’ve been painting, glittering, gluing and the kids love it!  It allows them to learn about the different time periods in history. Although I am not working directly with the kids, I am glad to be helping the kidspace librarians. They are so nice. And I know they are understaffed and could use the help so I am glad to do it. Which me brings me to our last step….

Third and last: research, find a place to volunteer, sign -up and do it!!

You’ll notice the title of my article is “How to be a Good Volunteer” and not just how to volunteer. Anyone can volunteer, I just think its important to go in with the right attitude.  Because attitude and being fabulous is EVERYTHING!!!

Here are a few websites you can visit if you’re looking for volunteer opportunities:

www.unitedway.org
www.volunteermatch.org
www.idealist.org

It was the Dalai Lama who said that “our prime purpose in this life is to help others” and I couldn’t agree more.  I think the best way to go about volunteering is to just get out there and do it. Try not to go into it with an agenda. If you are looking for a job and you want to network and stay busy, that’s fine. But I am a true believer in sacrificing your time and energy to helping others with only an intrinsic benefit to yourself and no expectation of getting something in return.

All right, I’ll get off my high horse on that. There are many reasons why people are motivated to volunteer so as long as you do it, than good for you.

Just remember……

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