Last fall, an organization I adore named me its Volunteer of the Year. I was shocked and humbled. Many of my friends were surprised and asked how I balance it all: a full-time career, fixing up a historic home, married life, and making time to volunteer.
Here are a few of my volunteering tips, including places to do community service:
Choose an Opportunity That Meets on Your Lightest Days
Are your Tuesday nights a little boring? Do you regularly get a weekday off? Add a volunteer shift to those less hectic days, and you’ll not only feel good about helping others, you’ll also fill the gaps in your week.
Look to an after-school program or local library for weekday ideas. On weekends, consider committing to a local park beautification project or supporting a community service organization’s building site.
Do Something That Only Requires an Hour a Week
This is my secret: for nearly seven years, I’ve slipped on my boots and spent an hour each Thursday evening working with people with special needs in a therapeutic horseback riding class.
It’s only one hour. Anyone can give up an hour of browsing social media or watching TV to help others. Look to your local non-profit agencies for quick, short volunteer stints. Ask how you can lend a hand, whether it’s planning for a fundraiser or getting caught up on office tasks.
Do Something You Can Complete from Home
With the assistance of email, cloud-based programs, and a little creativity, you can volunteer right from your kitchen table or couch! If you’re talented with writing, graphic design work, website management, or social media marketing, reach out to a local agency that supports a mission you believe in and offer to assist with their newsletter, website updates, or Facebook posting strategy.
For those who need a break from the computer, or aren’t as tech savvy, offer to stuff envelopes with invites for an upcoming event, apply mailing labels to a newsletter, or make reminder calls to donors. Every little bit helps.
Make the Opportunity a Family Event
I often hear people say they don’t want to get involved in volunteering because it takes time away from being with their kids or significant other. Well, why not get them involved too?
Find an event where the whole family can volunteer. For example, contact the hosts of an upcoming 5K run and see what you can do. Your kids can hand out water on the racecourse while you check in participants. Or head to the local animal shelter and walk the adoptable dogs as a family. You’ll enjoy some exercise and bonding time—and make it a great day for a needy pet.
Do you have some volunteering tips of your own to share? We’d love to hear them! Share with us by tweeting @TomsofMaine about the places to do community service in your area and how you’re involved.
Image sources: Angela Tague | Flickr
This article was brought to you by Tom’s of Maine. The views and opinions expressed by the author do not reflect the position of Tom’s of Maine.