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Friday, January 20, 2012

Finding volunteer opportunities that fit you


It can take trial and error and time to find volunteer opportunities that fit who you are and what you want from the experience.

Around four years ago I started volunteering at book sales held by the Friends of the Library at the branch I use.  As I cut back on my work hours I got more involved by being Membership chair and by helping to sort donated books.  I went to a grant writing workshop as the group's representative.  Last week I was elected President.  Why do I spend my time on this?  I love to read, I believe strongly in the mission of libraries, and the other volunteers are fun, nice and interesting.  Its turned out to be a good fit for me.

This year I wanted to add another volunteer commitment.  The question for me was if I seek out volunteer activities that address problems in the world that I dearly wish were solved or do I pursue those that hit the "sweet spot" of my lifelong interests and provide a "fun" quotient?  The answer for me was that I would continue to donate money to address big problems in the world (e.g. hunger and sustainable development) but I wanted to volunteer time for something that fit my ongoing personal interests, had potential for fun and fit my ever changing part time consulting schedule.  Once I decided that was what I wanted, the perfect opportunity popped up - be a chef demo volunteer assistant (officially an Outdoor Kitchen Resource Assistant) at the Atlanta Botanical Garden.  I met with the volunteer coordinator today and am happy with my decision.  Training is in April and then I commit to volunteering twice a month May - October and sign up for the days and times that fit my schedule.  I'm really looking forward to this experience which builds on their edible garden section and highlights cooking with foods that are in season.

How have you selected volunteer opportunities?  What is holding you back if you are wanting to volunteer but haven't yet taken that step?

10 comments:

  1. What an interesting volunteer opportunity! I do hope you'll share with us what you'll be doing in detail.

    Last fall, I started volunteering as a coordinator for a senior program. I match seniors who are isolated and lonely with volunteers who meet with clients in the clients' homes for about an hour once a week for a minimum of 6 months.

    I find this work very rewarding. I have always liked being around older people and have learned so much about myself, life, aging and history through my work.

    I have been meaning to discuss this topic more on my blog. Your post has motivated me to get going on that!

    Adrienne

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    1. Adrienne - thanks, I do think it will be interesting. They said some chefs want you to jump in and do some of the prep work so the knife skills class I am taking in March could be helpful. I'll share more about it in the spring. Your volunteering sounds interesting and very worthwhile. I look forward to reading more about it.

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  2. Yay, Juhli! I have been doing volunteering for years. But I have been thinking about either joining our "Friends of the Library" or volunteering at a children's advocacy center too. Nice post! ~~Bliss

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    1. Bliss - How wonderful that you have been volunteering for so long. What do you do?

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  3. Hmm..im just a girl who can't say no. My major volunteering is at a low income after school and day care program way across town that our church sponsors. I am their liason and help out and get dnations and so on. also on the church inreach committe....and Ill stop there lol.

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    1. Barb - It's great that you are so involved!

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  4. I truly would love to volunteer, but with 4 kids home with me 24/7, and my hubby working midnights, I can't find the time. :( In the future when my kids are older I will for sure though! :)

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    1. Carla - Life does get very full at various stages and volunteering has to fit or be postponed. I traveled extensively for work for years and only have been able to resume volunteering since I cut back to very part time consulting. Our kids are very much out of the nest too so that makes a huge difference. Where I live though there are some one time volunteer opportunities that welcome families - might be an opportunity for you and the kids.

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  5. What a great way to learn and share!! Can't wait to hear more about it. I don't do much vol. work out of the house, to many family commitments right now but we do support many orginzations near and dear to our heart. This year I am making lots of quilts for diffrent groups, LOVE it!!

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    1. Debby - I do think it will be lots of fun. When I didn't have time to do this type of volunteering one thing I did do was make preemie blankets for The Linus Project. It's great that you are making those quilts!

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