Is volunteering for you?
Do you like being outdoors in a beautiful natural setting or would you like to spend some time in a garden?
Sequoia Riverlands Trust would love to have you as a volunteer at Kaweah Oaks Preserve or Dry Creek Preserve!
If you’re thinking about doing some volunteering in the New Year, here are some tips for finding that perfect volunteer spot.
1. Identify the causes you’re passionate about.
(Kids at Kaweah Oaks Preserve)
Do you feel strongly about a particular problem or issue? Just to think, “Oh, well, volunteering would be a nice thing to do,” isn’t really enough. You might start, but will you stick with it? If you feel strongly about something, such as nature, open space, animals, homelessness or helping children, then that is a very good sign and the start of a great volunteer experience.
2. Determine how much time you have.
3. Contact relevant organizations.
4. Look for a volunteer opportunity that will be fulfilling.
Volunteer work should not be entirely selfless. It is important that you enjoy what you are doing so that you will continue doing it. Think about what you like to do. Are you a “take charge” kind of person? If so, you won’t be happy knocking on doors or stuffing envelopes. Look for leadership opportunities at nonprofits, such as serving on a board of directors, helping with fundraising, or organizing an event.
On the other hand, you might not want something intellectually challenging. Perhaps you have enough of that in your own career and would like to so something simple but meaningful. Maybe you would enjoy cleaning up a vacant lot, planting a garden or signing people up for a charity run.
5. Match your skills to the volunteer opportunity.
6. Be prepared for a challenge.
Boredom and impatience with the process are the biggest threats to a fulfilling volunteer experience. Some nonprofits will be disorganized and ill prepared for volunteers. Don’t stay with that kind of situation. If they deserve you, they will be ready to use you effectively.
If you work for a high-powered corporation, you may get impatient with the way things are done at a nonprofit. Try to refrain from telling them how to do their job.
If you work with things instead of people, you may have to rethink how you operate. Working with people and their problems takes a different and more patient mindset.
7. Expect personal growth.
You may be challenged by having to deal with people who are less educated than yourself, from different backgrounds, and who have a different ethnic background. For sure, your stereotypes will crumble as you witness the dignity of all people no matter their circumstances.
These challenges are healthy ones and will result in your own personal growth if you persevere rather than run away at your first glimpse of life as others live it.