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Engage Your Passion through Volunteer Work

Volunteers Raising a Home

I’m a mother of two who works a full time job, but volunteering is important to me. I want to be involved in my community and use my passion to help others. It is difficult to find the time and energy to find volunteer opportunities and make it happen, though. Fortunately, I am an engagement specialist by profession, and am responsible for helping co-workers find volunteer outlets for their passions, so I have learned some tips and tricks for freeing up time to give back to the community. Here are some things I’ve learned along the way:

 

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  1. Small doses are ok: Don’t have large windows of time to volunteer? Most organizations understand that you may not be able to give a full day. Many have slots available for a few hours and are willing to work with your schedule.  Get in touch with the organization(s) you’re interested in to see what options they offer. You never know if you don’t ask.
  2. Make it a family affair: This one strikes a chord with me. There are times, when volunteering at the Vermont Foodbank, that I miss out on family time with my children. I have made a conscious decision not to dwell on the loss. Instead, I look at it as an opportunity to set an example for my children. When I sit down and talk with my kids about why mommy is not going to be home right after work, I tell them how once a month I get to do something really special. I get to pack food for people in our community so that they can have food on their table and not go hungry. This starts a larger conversation on how they can get involved.
  3. Kids can volunteer too: gleaning is a great family volunteer event which teaches children about hard work, farming, and bringing food picked from these farms into the community. Some organizations are open to have children volunteer; you just need to ask!
  4. Be selective: Your time is valuable, so when looking into how you want to give back, make sure your volunteer work makes you feel fulfilled. When your heart is behind what you are doing, you take pride in it and it becomes a labor of love.Tweet: When your heart is behind your work, it becomes a labor of love. https://ctt.ec/gl9j2+ Volunteering can be for nonprofits; it can be for children’s sports event; and it can be fundraising for different initiatives. I look at volunteering as an opportunity to get involved in the community in many ways. It is up to you to figure out how that works with your life.
  5. Group volunteering with coworkers: As much as I enjoy giving back to the community, I have to say I really enjoy getting to spend time with my co-workers outside of work, removing the titles and getting our hands dirty as a team. The group I volunteer with varies on a monthly basis but we have a core group that comes each month. Knowing I have a team that is depending on me to attend the volunteer event holds me accountable for showing up and continuing to make a difference. It’s a win-win effort. Sometimes, we are having so much fun, we go to dinner just to spend more time with each other.
  6. Some employers pay you to volunteer: I work for an organization that pays its employees to volunteer in their communities. As an employee, I can’t help but say, oh yeah, I work for a company who gets it—walks the walk! What this has done for me is make those middle-of-the-day volunteering opportunities a reality without having to take vacation time to do it. I don’t have to volunteer after work if I don’t want to, I can take time during my work day to give back and know that my employer is supporting me and what I am passionate about.
  7. Warning, it is addicting! I know this sounds crazy and I would have said that there is no way it is addicting but when I can’t make it to a volunteer event I feel bummed, like a little piece of me is missing.  I actually look forward to my next volunteering fix if you will.
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