“If you think you are too small to make a difference, you haven’t spent the night with a mosquito.” -African proverb
Have you thought about volunteering, or donating time and resources, but feel a little overwhelmed about where to begin? The idea of trying to help needs in our community can be daunting to put into action.
“What if I don’t have the money/goods to donate? What if I can only give two hours a month? Habitat for Humanity sounds great, but could I even do it?” Most of us have had these unproductive self talks, but no matter your age, abilities, time constraints or skill level, there are incredible ways to give back.
Besides the gift of giving, you are given the opportunity to meet those with similar interests, add to your resume, build or expand a skill set, and gain experience where you had none. Volunteer positions can even lead to full-time paid positions down the road.
“Research has shown that people who volunteer often live longer.”
The easiest place for me to start was United Way’s “Get Connected.”:
“Get connected is an easy-to-use web-based platform that matches the right donors, advocates, and volunteers with the right opportunities in our neighborhoods. Use Get Connected to find ways to give your unused materials and household items to agencies in need of donations, advocate for causes that require your passionate voice, and volunteer your time in ways that can make a real difference.”
It’s easy to log in and create a profile including activities in which you are interested, skills you have to share, and organizations/causes that are most important to you. There are listing for one-time events, agencies who need regular volunteers/advocates, and donation needs that range from clothing and toiletries to thumb drives for after school programs.
You can sign up to receive updates when new needs are posted, or browse current needs. I saw the Boys and Girls Club were looking for a donation of 24 thumb drives to help students transport their work, so I hounded my friends for donations. I then communicated with someone from their office about how to get them to the right people – too easy!
“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi
Why not gather your friends, family, or co-workers and do something that can make a real impact on your community?
To explore some of our local non-profits, and what they do, here are some charities that would be thrilled to have you become part of their teams:
Project Linus– An organization that hand makes blankets for critically ill children.
Gallant Few -Veteran Mentoring.
Lead the Way Fund– Established to raise funds in support of disabled U.S. Army Rangers and their families.
“Volunteering is the ultimate exercise in democracy. You vote in elections once a year, but when you volunteer, you vote every day about the kind of community you want to live in.”
Let’s create the community we want to live in by volunteering.
Written by Alia Azhar
*For info on where to donate used items to local thrift stores, see ECL’s previous article on thrift stores.