Make Your Mark on the World: Other Information on Volunteering

Another beautiful day! Ohio weather is crazy. We had one amazing day with the hot sun and a cool breeze and the next day there was a huge storm. I don’t know what it is about this place, but most who live here say, “If you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes!”

I apologize for the slow-down in posts, but there is a good reason! Last week I had exam week, and I am finally finished. Today I had a second interview with a job I applied for on campus and… I got the job! I’m very excited, and will probably start soon. The good news is, this job will allow me some more time to plan and write for Deliciae so there will be no dramatic changes. I may even post more.

This is the final post of the Make Your Mark series, which will focus on any extra information you may need to know including some small warnings, what to expect on your first few days of volunteering, and more.

If you’ve missed out on any or all of the rest of the series, here’s a list of what’s been going on:

Do Some Prior Research!

There are many reasons you should probably do a little research into an organization you’re looking to work for. If you’re volunteering at a building you know of and are familiar to, you need not worry, but if you’re volunteering for a “stranger” or a building you haven’t known previously, you should do a bit of a background check just to see if it is indeed a legit business who will be responsible with your personal information. I’m not saying there are many illegitimate businesses out there, but I think it’s good to take some caution!

You can do this on your own by doing a few simple Google searches, look up their background information, or even call and ask for further information about their organization, what their mission statement is, and what types of volunteers they are looking for.

What To Expect During Your First Few Days

1. During your first few days, you’ll most likely be filling out paperwork. Sometimes it’s necessary, but once you’re done with that, the work begins!

2. Your supervisor will show you the ropes, introduce you to other volunteers, and give you their policy.

3. Then the regular work begins! Stick with it. Some beginning work may feel tedious at first, but once you get the hang of it and realize how much you are actually contributing and affecting, you’ll know it’s worth it and you’ll have some fun.

4.You’ll start feeling great! Keep at it. Remember, you can stop anytime. No pressure.

Remember:

  • Organizations looking for volunteers are very lenient and kind regarding your schedule. Again, there’s really no pressure here. They may require a certain number of hours a week, but it’s usually always free for you to decide when to come in. Any help is good help.
  • Have some fun with it! Network and meet new people. You could make a lifetime friend or an important connection into your big life career! There are thousands of opportunities surrounding this activity so be an opportunist! Take advantage!
  • If you haven’t had a job, this is the perfect practice. Those in high school or even middle school could benefit greatly by learning responsibility and the value of time and generosity.
  • Know when to not volunteer.

Helpful Links
Search engines:
Hud.gov (Good place to start!)
VolunteerMatch (Also a very good place!)
Idealist.org
Volunteer.gov
Volunteers of America
1-800-Volunteer.org

A few organizations:
The Humane Society

Habitat for Humanity
American Red Cross
Rotary
CMT’s One Country
Peace Corps

Big Brothers Big Sisters

That’s it for this series! Thanks for sticking with  me, and I hope I’ve helped further you along in your volunteer search. It truly is a great experience. The feeling you get helping others in need is comparable to no other, I promise. Have a nice day!

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Make Your Mark on the World: Make sure you have what you need to volunteer

Hello, hello, my readers. Did you know that more unemployed are turning to volunteering in light of the United States’ poor economic health? You can see these articles here and here. I think it’s a great way to spend all that free time, and they’re adding to their resumes while searching for work!

This is the fourth post in my Make Your Mark series on how to start your volunteering journey with ease. Whew, I apologize for the delay, but it’s here! I’ve had a terrible headache today, but I’ll do my best.

The other three posts of the series focus on:

Volunteering is indeed a painless and easy process, but in order to communicate information between you and your prospective supervisor and make it an even easier process, you’ve gotta have some of the tools listed here

For virtual volunteering specifically… you will want some medium of primary communication (usually suggested by the organization) Internet access, a telephone or a cell phone are the most preferred ways. I’ve yet to see any volunteer jobs that require you communicate by snail mail or human messengers so I would stick to the former three!

You may also need a scanner or an image editing program in case you are emailed applications that must be signed. Some may do this by mail, but it seems a rarity these days.

For regular ol’ local volunteering… you’ll need items that match whatever position you’re working under! This is common sense though. If you’re helping with greenery or working around dirt, find some extra work clothes that you don’t really need, some gloves, tools, etc. On the other scale, if you’re working in an office, try to find some formal dress. You never know what career opportunities may come to you while volunteering!

You must have a means of transportation, but this seems silly to mention. Just like any regular job, it will be polite and recommended to come in on time. Most organizations are very, very lenient about the times you come in and the hours you clock so no pressure.

For volunteering in general… you might want an agenda or a calendar to remember your scheduled work days.

Documents that include personal information such as your shot records may be required, but not usually.

Make sure you keep a list of all dates and times you’ve worked and also where you’ve worked. This is just a good reference and reminder list you might need later for a resume or application.

For higher up opportunities, you may be asked for examples of past work relative to your position. Most entry level positions don’t mind if you don’t have skills. That’s what training is for! But if you’re applying to be the graphic designer of a booming website, they may want someone with a bit of skill.

Keep your interpersonal skills and perseverance polished and handy as well. The training processes for some jobs (mostly office jobs or jobs working with confidential information) are a bit tedious, but afterward, you will begin to feel the benefits of your generosity!

In the next and final post I will be sure to cover all the tiny cracks and crevices of information I can find when it comes to volunteering. I’ll include some small warnings (nothing to fret over!), some tips after you get the job, what to expect and more.

Thanks for reading and sticking with me! Hopefully this headache goes away so I can get back to some quality posts.

Make Your Mark on the World Series:

  1. Introduction: How to Start Volunteering Now!
  2. Beginning Your Search: Matching Your Interests
  3. Where to Find Them? Local or Virtual?
  4. Items You May Need << You’re here
  5. Other Information
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Make Your Mark on the World: Volunteering Locally or Virtually

I’m sitting here on a beautiful day listening to a little Yo La Tengo (“Today is the Day” is such a good writing song) writing my 11th post for this blog, my project I’ve been planning to start for 6 years. I knew today was going to be a good day. Things have been going generally well for a while!

This is the third post in the Make Your Mark series in which I’m explaining some easy ways to get started on your volunteer opportunity search. The first post was simply an introduction to volunteering. The second went more in-depth about matching opportunities to your interests.

Today I’ll be talking about where to find these opportunities. You’ve essentially two choices: local or virtual.

Virtual Opportunities

Did you know that you can do volunteer work from home? There are many virtual opportunities out there with no set location, which can be completed from home and/or via the internet. If you don’t have time to travel from one place or the other or want to volunteer from home for other reasons (children, work, etc.) volunteering virtually will be your best bet. You could be helping someone overseas with a project! Examples of volunteer work you can do from home are:

  • Designing marketing materials for an organization (pamphlets, fliers, and more)
  • Photography
  • Website designing
  • Grant writing
  • Virtual tutoring
  • Research

The special benefits to virtual volunteering include:

  • Working around your own schedule
  • Having your work exposed and known in different parts of the world
  • Opportunities for those who are disabled
  • Wider range of opportunities
  • All-around easy for those who may find volunteering difficult

For example, icouldbe.org allows volunteers to mentor underprivileged teens who select mentors that match their interests. You would communicate online and through the icouldbe website and aid them in activities such as writing a mission statement and autobiography, defining their top three priorities in life, etc. Volunteers would have to commit at least one hour a week. Painless, no? They also have neat features such as “mentor of the month”. You could get some neat recognition that way.

*These opportunities call for means of communication, which will be covered in the next post.

Local Opportunities

Most of the volunteer jobs you hear about take place in local areas. If you have time on your hands to commit a few hours a week towards an organization in your community or neighboring community, local volunteering opportunities are for you! Make sure you have means of transportation to these places before you sign up for them as well. Examples of local work include:

  • Building homes in your area
  • Cleaning local parks
  • Assisting in clothing drives and other drives
  • Setting up marathons and relays for fund raising
  • Office jobs
  • Tutors

The special benefits of local volunteering include:

  • Making new local friends
  • Gaining social skills
  • Becoming known within your community
  • Finding a new job in your area

When looking for local opportunities, I look through a few sites (including VolunteerMatch described below).  Go through your city’s website (or do a simple Google search for your city + “volunteer opportunities”) and look for businesses and organizations that post up volunteer opportunities. Some good businesses to search for locally are:

  • Colleges
  • Day care centers
  • Hospices
  • Senior Centers
  • Charities
  • Parks
  • Libraries

Some big organizations that branch out nationally (just search for your local chapter) include:

  • Rotary – the world’s first service club organization (they aid INTERACT clubs at highschools)
  • Habitat for Humanity – helping build local and afforadable houses
  • American Red Cross – aiding your communitiy in preparation for emergencies
  • Big Brother Big Sister – Become a “big brother/sister” to a child just to spend time with them and be someone they can look up to. Something I want to try very soon! This is their mission statement:

“…to help children reach their potential through professionally supported, one-to-one relationships with mentors that have a  measurable impact on youth.”

VolunteerMatch has a search engine that allows you to search through virtual or local opportunities. You don’t have to sign up to search, but you do have to register to ask for more information about a position. It’s painless and easy, however, and helpful information about specific opportunities are emailed to you in a quick manner.

You could find more opportunities at your local Craigslist under “jobs” by clicking “nonprofit”, but you must be weary of these opportunities as these listings go through no screening process for legitimacy.

I’ll post an extensive list of links at the end of this series for you guys.

Make Your Mark on the World Series:

  1. Introduction: How to Start Volunteering Now!
  2. Beginning Your Search: Matching Your Interests
  3. Where to Find Them? Local or Virtual? << You’re here
  4. Items You May Need
  5. Other Information

I hope this has been of some help so far! If you have any questions or comments about specific volunteer opportunities and anything else, feel free to comment or email me.

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Make Your Mark on the World: Volunteering to Match Your Interests

Hello, readers! Hope you’ve been having a normal, safe Friday the 13th! Any stories of bad luck you’d like to share? Personally, I had an interview scheduled for today that I’ve been sweating over, but luckily it went well! I did leave my cell phone at home all day, but that’s the extent of my bad luck.

So on to our topic: Are you looking to lend your time and skills to someone in need, but have no idea how to go about it? Yesterday I began a series of posts on how to find a volunteer position with ease, and today is the second post out of four of that series. If you missed the previous post, you can take a look at it here.

I reorganized what posts will be featured when and what those posts will contain. I figured this would be a more organized and clear way to present it. You can view it at the bottom of any post in this series.

Now, onto the good stuff:

The first step to finding an organization or business that needs your help is to take note of your skill set and interests. Just keep in mind everything you are good at and everything you like – everything! Be it web designing, playing video games, winning at chess, playing baseball, writing poetry, drawing, or even gardening. You’ll be surprised at how many volunteer opportunities match even the most obscure skills and interests.  Keeping these in mind will help you to weed out volunteer positions you most likely would not enjoy.

Just an example of a few skill sets or interests that may match opportunities:

  • If you like gardening you could help clean up a local park
  • If you’re an avid blogger you could write guest blogs for other bloggers stretched for time
  • An interest in crafts can help you in a position to make holiday cards for those who need a pick-me-up

For most entry level volunteer positions (and there are a lot of them), skills are never really needed. You don’t need knowledge of building an entire house to volunteer for Habitat for Humanity!

After you realize your interests and your skill sets, try listing some general types of organizations or jobs you know of that could potentially match those interests. For example: if you have excellent teaching skills, some day care centers, libraries, and schools look for volunteer tutors to help out their students. This list will help you later when finding actual organizations and places in your area.

The second step is to realize what you, at your age, are capable of contributing! Many volunteer seekers specify the age range in which they are looking for help, but there’s always an opportunity for everyone somewhere.

  • For children, I’ve seen opportunities to decorate Easter eggs for Easter, create candy bags for other children, and even donate their old toys to those who may not receive many Christmas presents.
  • For teens there are plenty of opportunities. They can join in relays to fund research, work at concession stands, feed the homeless, clean up local parks, and even design websites and publications with the right knowledge.
  • For adults the opportunities are endless. Adults can volunteer for most entry level volunteer positions and even land higher-up volunteer positions such as administrator or volunteer coordinator for certain organizations. Those 18 and older can work at local hospices to help improve the lives of those with terminally ill patients, prep and cook Thanksgiving meals to serve the homeless, and even become a friend to the elderly by visiting them in their homes, doing a grocery run, and more.
  • Of course, there are opportunities for whole groups and families as well. Most opportunities are open to large groups and the sheer number of people helping will put a smile on anyone’s face.

Now that we’ve got some of the preliminary preparations done and over with, you’re ready to delve into the search with the basic knowledge you need to find the right opportunity for you.

Tomorrow’s post will get more in depth and help you to figure out whether you want a local or virtual opportunity and I’ll post a huge list of helpful, quality resources and websites you can use that have been helpful for me in my own search. Come back tomorrow for more!

Make Your Mark on The World series:

  1. Introduction: How to Start Volunteering Now!
  2. Beginning Your Search: Matching Your Interests << You’re here
  3. Where to Find Them? Local or Virtual?
  4. Items You May Need
  5. Other Information

I’ll be sure to link to each in the series as they are posted! Check back this week for more!

Also: If you have any questions or suggestions about volunteering or what to add to this series, feel free to comment. I’m looking to find all the information I can! Thanks a lot!

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Make Your Mark on the World: How to Start Volunteering Now!

Want to make your mark on the world? The easiest way is to do a little volunteering. Studies show sweeping positive benefits correlated to helping and giving a little bit of your time.

  • You can learn a new skill
  • Become immediately active in your community
  • Gain that sense of achievement
  • Boost career options (definitely!)
  • Find new hobbies and experiences
  • Meet plenty of new people and make new friends
  • and more

It kind of seems like an elixir of sorts, huh?

In high school, I worked at a local soup kitchen for the homeless in downtown Dayton. It was Thanksgiving day and the building was packed with those who haven’t had meals for two or three days in a row. Looking around, I could see men and women everywhere – usually with all of their belongings thrown in one plastic bag.

We brought in a huge Thanksgiving meal: turkey, gravy, fruits, chicken, desert, and more. I was to serve the food and help clean up afterward. We got mixed reactions, which was to be expected, but many were very grateful and blessed us and gave us compliments. My first day working there changed my life and taught me how grateful I should be for what I have.

You know what’s very interesting? I see many, many homeless folks stop to feed pigeons, stray cats, and dogs. There’s something very symbolic in that.

Over the next few days, I’ll feature my first series of posts that will lay before you some tips and resources that have helped me tremendously in my search for volunteer opportunities so keep checking back!

I’ve read many self-improvement blogs since I was 12. Every once in a while, one will suggest readers to volunteer to boost their outlook on life. At 12, the promise of an enriched life was enticing, but I had no idea where to begin my volunteer search. Instead of throwing you out into volunteer world with no resources in hand, I’ve decided to list some excellent resources and quality tips that will guarantee you find a volunteer opportunity that fits you.

And don’t worry, there’s bound to be an opportunity out there that fits your interest. Over the years, I’ve made and delivered Christmas cards to the elderly at a nursing home, created a simple website for an organization, served on our Mayor’s beautification committee, cleaned up a local park, and more.

Everyone can volunteer. Well – maybe not infants, but don’t think you can’t volunteer just because you’re under 18 or over 55. Many businesses and organizations are looking for help, and as long as you have the will to help, there is a spot open for you.

This series of posts will include these topics:

  1. Introduction: How to Start Volunteering Now! << You’re here
  2. Beginning Your Search: Matching Your Interests
  3. Where to Find Them? Local or Virtual?
  4. Items You May Need
  5. Other Information

I’ll be sure to link to each in the series as they are posted! Check back this week for more!

Also: If you have any questions or suggestions about volunteering or what to add to this series, feel free to comment. I’m looking to find all the information I can! Thanks a lot!

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