Monday, June 4, 2012

Do You Volunteer? Kate Needs Advice

by Kate Collins

 

I’ve been looking into donating some of the free time I find myself with now, but the choices seem overwhelming, and most seem to involve calling on the phone to elicit funds, which is not my cup of tea.

I already teach a creative writing class at my local woman’s shelter one morning, and work at my church’s resale shop one afternoon a week, but I’d like something that involves more activity and more people. Because I work during the day alone at my writing and am alone all evening, too, I want to do something with people.

Anyone have any suggestions? What kinds of volunteerism do you do? Do you find it rewarding? Is there anything you'd change about it?

29 comments:

FirstOfMay said...

Hi Kate! I used to volunteer in a nursing home. I started out 2 days a week for 6 hrs. Then I had to back to 4 hrs. Then I eventually started volunteering 3 days a week for a total of 12 hrs. a week for 14 years. I'm sure if you can't donate that much time, they could always use you for an hour to help with an activity like Bingo or maybe take some time and do in-room visits with one or more of the residents.

Peewee54 said...

HI, I volunteer with the YWCA and watch children while their mothers get financial advice or whatever. I love it and whenever you can save a non-profit that in my opinion is so awesome money, I do!

Katreader said...

Although I don't have the time now, when I lived in Texas I volunteered at the Humane Society. There are opportunities to work with people there-but I prefer non human animals! Zoos and museums needs docents and you could consider being a friend to a mentally ill person through a local psychiatric center.

Chaplain Jan said...

Most hospitals have a volunteer organization with jobs ranging from greeting visitors, delivering flowers, working in a gift shop, staffing the information desk in a surgical waiting room, and many other opportunities. And most can always use another volunteer.

Gail Meredith said...

Hi Kate, I've volunteered at a hospice, an animal shelter and with Habitat for Humanity.

Instead of considering volunteering as something you do for people or animals, begin to think of it as an exchange.

Consider that most people find themselves in need at some point in their lives. So today you may be the person with the ability to help, but tomorrow you may be the recipient of someone else's volunteer effort.

Marion said...

I am a volunteer tour guide at our local zoo and I love it. It took 6 months of hard training and studying, but it was all worth it. Im doing it for 6 years now and as long as I'm able to walk and talk, I'l keep on going. Love to tell stories about animals, eduvate people without them even knowing I do and see all kinds of faces: old, young, black, white, poor, rich and everything in between.

Aimee Hix said...

How about the library? Library budgets are usually the first to be cut and as a 'book person' it would be a natural fit. : )

Katie, RN said...

I volunteer at my kid's school (when its the school year) and at the local blood donation center. I also volunteer to work at different 5k races throughout the year.

Ramona said...

Food bank is always good for activity that's physical but not strenuous.

The best volunteer experience I've ever had was helping run a lunchtime reading club for teenagers at a big public high school. The kids were not angels and desperately needed someone to listen to them. Lots of fun and very educational--for me. Teenagers are brutal critics, and they'd go right for a character's weak spot. Win, win, win situation.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Kate. I volunteer in a used book store. the proceeds from the store go to support Hospice and a home health agency. Being a reader I love working there and helping the customers.

I also do charity knitting and crocheting which is sent to various charities but esecially to The Pink Slipper Project. The slippers are sent to domestic violence shelters. Good luck in your search for a place to volunteer. It is truly a wonderful feeling to help someone in need.

KeLLy aNN said...

I also volunteer at my kids school and love it.

I second the Library!

I would also suggest your local Arts Council.

Locally, we just had a huge arts project that reached it's funding to do wall murals. I'm hoping to volunteer/apprentice for 1 or 2 of the artists.

Can't wait to see what you end up doing!

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Denise Zendel said...

Once upon a time, I did rape crisis volunteering and that was difficult but satisfying. I would also recommend your local humane society. Ours always needs dog walkers or people to work in the re-sale shop. Good luck with whatever you choose.

LD Masterson said...

You've received so many good ideas already but here's one more - I'm a volunteer with the American Red Cross. They have lots of opportunities, including being trained to respond to local disasters (i.e. single family fires) and/or the big ones (hurricains, tornados, etc.)

Kimberly and Abby said...

Have you considered puppy raising for a guide dog or service dog organization? People appear out of the woodwork to talk to you when you have a dog with you. If you don't want a pup full-time, you can always co-raise with another person/family....

Cheryl said...

I have done alot of volunteering. Working at the Humane Society has been a very rewarding experience. There may not be alot of people there but the animals love the attention! Another option might be a museum or historical site. Another thing you might consider is an adult ed program. I took one on antiques and met alot of great people. And I once took a Citizens Police Academy course just to get out of the house when my kids where young. There were volunteer opportunities there as well. Good luck!!

Debra said...

I taught a woman to read. She was from Haiti and was somewhat fluent in Creole, which I am not. I took a literacy course over a couple of Saturdays at my local library and we worked together for a year until at the end she would read to me. Most satisfying thing I have ever done.

Diane said...

Our family volunteers by being a foster family for PAWS With A Cause puppies. We get the pup when it's 7-8 weeks old and have it in our home for about a year; we take it with us almost everywhere we go so that it gets all kinds of experience and hopefully won't be surprised by a new situation when it goes out with its client. In addition to the knowledge that we're helping someone gain independence, we benefit because we attend weekly classes to learn the best way to raise our pup, and we have met some of the greatest people through this organization--both raisers and clients. We are raising our fourth puppy now and hope to continue doing it for many more years.

Kate Collins said...

These are all great ideas. Keep them coming!

Anonymous said...

Kate, if you have a dog you might want to get into a Therapy Program. I take my Mishka to the local elementary school and library and the children read to her. It's lots of fun for all of us!

Amy W. said...

I've looked into volunteering at the VA Hospital. They are always looking for people to do different things, like play games with patients, helping with other projects and such. They also have behind the scenes work that needs to be done if you aren't comfortable with one on one. Just a thought, along with the many others like helping at the humane society. Good luck and keep us posted on what you come up with!! :)

Anonymous said...

If you want to work with people I'd suggest helping with Youth choir and/or youth activities at your church. The kids are lively and there's lots of opportunity for interaction. I also use to volunteer at a youth shelter where we cooked meals for the kids and played games with them. I think you have to be selective, there are so many ways to volunteer that will not provide any human interaction whatsoever. All best wishes.

Susan said...

Don't forget about Rotary--there are weekly lunch meetings (don't have to attend them all) that lead to lasting friendships and usually a variety of projects going on, local and international. Would love to have you join the MC one, though it may be a bit too long a drive :)

Anonymous said...

I have done a variety of things to volunteer my time. I was a homework tutor in an afterschool program at my local library (kids came in for 2 hours and I helped a random table of 3 kids with whatever homework they had. I soon became The Math Tutor.). I helped 2nd graders once per week at our local school in a program to help them get up-to-speed with their reading level. I currently volunteer with a very special therapy animal (we go to hospitals, schools, retirement homes, etc).

I had to stop working in my early 30s due to a health issue, so I ended up with a mild depression for about 5 years, wondering what my value was. What got me out of that depression was volunteering. It got me out of my head and out of my own small world and got me helping and focusing on other people. I would be lost without it.

I recently met an older woman, recently retired, who described her current stage of life as being a Ministry of Availability. I love that!

Jane R said...

I volunteer at our local food pantry and serve on the board of directors. I am also a docent at one of the presidential libraries, which are administered by the National Archives. My husband and I have also volunteered with a local Golden Retriever Rescue group. We have fostered dogs waiting for their forever home (and keeping more than several of them!). Local libraries are always in need of volunteers in many different capacities and, if you like to work with children, many elementary schools use volunteers to help their students become better readers. It can be very rewarding to see a child enjoy the pleasures of reading!

Anonymous said...

Habatat for humanity is a great way you can use free time to give back to the community

Christine Jensen said...

I am the coach administrator for our local AYSO region. AYSO (AMerican Youth SOccer Organization) is a fabulous soccer program for kids that is run completely on the backs of volunteers. I know in our region that there is so much that needs doing and we would love people who want to help. You should be able to find your closest region at AYSO.org

Adrienne said...

Kate and all of you who wrote...I am so inspired by the long list of how you've generously given of your time..all of you. I know it will help me, too, to find a way to give back. Best wishes to you, Kate, as you find your way and know that we all care so much about you and wish you the very best!

Book Dragon said...

I would think of the stuff you like to do and then see if there is a way to use that. I noticed someone commented about 5k races. Runner groups are usually a lively group and if you don't run, you can still join. They usually need people at water tables/support stations during long runs and races.

I ditto most of the other comments, very inspiring.