Reach Out

I would find my greatest healing, from depression, loss and grief – in giving. I love Joyce Meyers very simple approach, “when you’re down, go be a blessing to someone else.”

But I also know that climbing out of that black hole – the abyss, is difficult and a lot easier said than done! It is also overwhelming, simply because on some days just getting out of bed seems like an accomplishment all in of itself. There is something so extremely powerful and healing when we can find the energy to focus on something other than ourselves.

Small steps lead to bigger leaps and eventually you’ll find that you are not only on your way, but you’re running your race. With purpose and intent.

Purpose is a powerful thing … it transforms and empowers.

My first few attempts at volunteering were disastrous, I felt worse in the aftermath then I did before I got started.

Here’s a few things that I hope will help you a little, to get started and encourage you to move beyond your circumstances.

Ten Tips ..

  1. Look for a group that works with issues about which you feel strongly. You might already be giving money to one of these organizations, and that might be a good place to begin your volunteer (experience) search.
  2. Consider your skill set, and what you can offer. You may enjoy working outside, perhaps have a knack for teaching? Look for volunteer opportunities that will incorporate the attributes of your personality – likes, interests. Many positions require a volunteer with some working knowledge, of previous familiarity. Chose an area or something that you already enjoy like a hobby, maybe athletics, communications, or similar to your on the job experience. It allows you to jump right in without having to take training or prepare for the assignment.
  3. Maybe you’d like to try 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. Or, volunteering can simply offer a change from your daily routine. Many nonprofits seek out people who are willing to learn. Realize beforehand, however, that such work might require a time commitment for training before the actual volunteer assignment begins.
  4. Look for volunteer opportunities that will also help you achieve your other goals for your life. For example, if you want to lose a few extra pounds, pick an active volunteer opportunity, 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 that teaches cooking skills.
  5. DON’T over commit!!! The last thing you need is to be frustrated and exhausted. See how the work, the position suits you before making an extensive commitment. See whether the organization will start you out on a limited number of hours until you get the feel of things. Better to start out slowly than to commit yourself to a schedule you can’t or don’t want to fulfill.
  6. NON-PROFITS; while most nonprofits are eager to find volunteer help, they have to be careful when accepting the services you offer. If you contact an organization with an offer to volunteer your time, you may be asked to come in for an interview, fill out a volunteer application, or describe your qualifications and your background just as you would at an interview for a paying job. It is in the organization’s interest and more beneficial to the people it serves to make certain you have the skills needed, that you are truly committed to doing the work, and that your interests match those of the nonprofit. Furthermore, in volunteer work involving children or other at-risk populations, there are legal ramifications for the organization to consider. Don’t be put off by the procedure – it’s part of the process!
  7. Consider volunteering as a Family! Think about looking for something suitable for parents and children, husband and wife. When a family volunteers to work together, the experience can bring them closer together, and teach young children the value of giving their time and effort, introduce everyone in the family to new skills and new experiences. It helps you stay connected to your family as well.
  8. Nowadays with technology – consider virtual volunteering. Yes, there is such a thing. If you have computer access and the necessary skills, some organizations now offer the opportunity to do volunteer work over the computer. This might take the form of giving free legal advice, typing a college term paper for a person with a disability, or simply keeping in contact with a shut-in who has e-mail. This sort of volunteering might be well suited to you if you have limited time, no transportation, or a physical disability that precludes you from getting about freely.
  9. Get involved in community groups. Most of us know that hospitals, libraries, and churches use volunteers for a great deal of their work, but here are some volunteer opportunities that may not have crossed your mind:
    • Day care centers, Neighborhood Watch, Public Schools and Colleges
    • Halfway houses, Community Theaters, Drug Rehabilitation Centers, Fraternal Organizations and Civic Clubs
    • Retirement Centers and Homes for the Elderly, Meals on Wheels, Church or Community-Sponsored Soup Kitchens or Food Pantries
    • Museums, Art Galleries, and Monuments
    • Community Choirs, Bands and Orchestras
    • Prisons, Neighborhood Parks, Youth Organizations, Sports Teams, and after-school programs Shelters for Battered Women and Children
    • Historical Restorations, Battlefields and National Parks
  10. Give a voice to your heart! Do it for you, giving is a priceless gift and what you get back – in return, is immeasurable.