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Volunteering: A Win-Win Proposition

volunteeringblogphotoDoes your 2013 to-do list include any of these: Make new friends? Learn new skills? Expand professional network? Help others in the community?

If so, you are a great candidate for volunteering!  Since April is National Volunteer Month, it’s a perfect time to think about getting involved.

I am willing to bet you haven’t thought of all the benefits YOU can reap as a volunteer – and there are many!  Making new friends while helping out at a youth group sandwich sale or sharpening your math skills as a tutor in an after-school homework help program are just a couple of examples.  Many people who volunteer discover it’s a great way to meaningfully connect with others in their field – potentially a great way to enhance your own career. There are so many ways to benefit, and all while helping your community!

Okay, volunteering has a lot to offer – so what’s holding us back?  Maybe you don’t know how to get started.  The good news is finding out where and how to get involved isn’t a big mystery if you know where to look.

One great resource is Volunteermatch.org.  Through its extensive network of nonprofit institutions and organizations, you can search for local or virtual volunteer opportunities.  Some may require long-term commitment; others might be for a fixed, short period of time.  The website can also help you learn more, in general, about different types of philanthropic and service-oriented groups in your area. If you’re motivated to help with a certain type of need, you can narrow your search that way.

There’s another obstacle in volunteering: concern about how much time you can give. Well, many opportunities don’t require a lot of time. You’ll find most organizations are happy to have the help of a person who may only be able to offer one day or evening a week to help out at an after-school program or walk dogs at the animal shelter.

If you have children in school, your parent-teacher organization will gladly accept a couple hours of your time at a book fair or track-and-field day.  Your employer may offer volunteer opportunities, too, if they sponsor a walk-a-thon or other such large event and need help manning registration tables and the like.  This type of volunteering is ideal if you think you can’t make a regular commitment.

Volunteering can give so much back to us, even while we are giving our time and energy to others. So, in honor of National Volunteering Month, take some time to consider volunteering.  To keep motivated, find an organization with a mission you feel strongly about, and ask what you can do to help.  You won’t regret it.

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Posted in In the Community.

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