One of the items on my A-Live list is volunteering; an easy item that is never quite checked off from the list. I don’t have a concrete number I’m trying to reach, but rather it’s more of a how many hours can I reach type of thing; a competition with myself to get that number as high as I can.
This being a more recent realization and addition to the list, I spend time thinking of all of the time I could have spent racking up the hours in my college years when I actually had time. Now with a full-time job, house, a new relationship, friends, family, and a dog that I’m convinced is more high maintenance than a small child it’s a bit more difficult to squeeze it in.
That how-can-I-fit-this-into-my-schedule mindset has been haunting me and preventing me from going out and doing. I think to myself that I need to do this, or I need to do that. The fact is, other people need more than I do. So what if I have to cut the grass one evening after work because I spent my weekend cleaning up the streets of Over-The-Rhine? This realization has revolutionized my thoughts and spurred me to really make that total hours number begin to soar. Last week I volunteered at two separate events!
Is volunteering something you feel passionate about? Is it something you've never really done much of but would like to try? I urge you to get out there and give it a try at least once! Here are some ideas to get you started if you don’t have any idea where to begin.
- Walks and races. Most cities have many to choose from. Not only do you get some exercise, but you can totally count this as volunteering. If you aren’t up for walking/running, volunteer to help out with organizing, planning, or at the finish line.
- Churches. I participate yearly in an event called GOCincinnati organized by Crossroads Church of Cincinnati. It’s a day of service where over 7,000 volunteers go out into the Cincinnati community and help clean up the city, paint, landscape, build, etc. It’s such a rewarding day and one of my favorites. If you’re not in/near Cincinnati, there are many churches all over the world that I’m sure can help you get involved.
- Help a friend/neighbor. My friend is an art teacher and hosted her first (of what is hopefully an annual) Family Art Night. She needed volunteers to help run different art projects for the kids and their families. Have an elderly neighbor? Mow the lawn for them!
- Schools. They often need volunteers for little things like making copies for teachers.
- Clean up. It doesn't need to be an organized event. Go to a park or walk down the street (wearing bright colors, facing traffic) and pick up trash.
- Check with your employer. Many companies have employee volunteer programs. Starbucks and Kohl's are two big ones that come to mind right away.
- Have a non-perishable food drive party! When you’re having friends/family over and they ask what they can bring, tell them to bring a canned food item. Start collecting and donate to a local food pantry.
- Non-profit organizations. They always take volunteers!
This is such a short list, but hopefully it will get your mind going. What other ways do you volunteer? I’d love to hear!