Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Finding Your Volunteer Niche

I was visiting with some friends over appetizers the other evening on how humanitarianism is intertwined with faith, amongst a variety of other deep, intense and for many people, boring subjects. I have pondered on this conversation and gathered one of my takeaway conclusions is that most people have an internal sense that helping other living creatures is part of our plight in life. Whether you find it a part of your religion, are innately compelled, or have never acted on your compulsion volunteering/community service has a strange way of bringing you a gift greater than the one you thought you provided to someone else. 

So how do you find a good community service fit? Try them out! 

I am not much of a cryer. If I tear-up over something I know I must be truly compassionate for whatever caused such a response. This is how I knew no matter how little or how much I did I had to do something when I saw pictures of the Guthrie Animal Shelter devastated by this years tornadoes. You will run yourself ragged if you try to extend yourself to everything that saddens you. Our world is just too big with too many evils. It is those things that grab you from the inside, that make you cry in public, that give you physical discomfort that get your attention so much so that you just is your mission. I asked around until I received an email forward with some contacts. I called to find out what they were in need of now and in the future. Knowing that I was strapped for my own time, I contacted our veterinarian at Wedgewood Pet Clinic in Oklahoma City and asked if I could bring down some flyers and a donation box. Unfortunately, we did not get as many supplies as I would have liked (if that is possible), but we were able to provide the Guthrie Animal Shelter some items and funds to help begin their rebuilding efforts. My efforts could not have been triumphant alone. If you let that initial surge of compassion drive you to make some calls and gather some contacts you will find others driven to help your efforts succeed. 

If you have never had an experience like the one I just mentioned, but still want to give of your time and are unsure what type of volunteer project would fit you best try a large organization that encompasses multiple volunteer experiences. I am currently a member of a group where I have been able to try many different community service projects. For example, if you think that volunteering at Children’s hospital might be your thing, but also want to try helping out at a thrift shop raising funds to go back into the community you can try one each year. If you find something convicting along the way you can ask to be placed on that project multiple times, manage the project, or begin volunteering directly with the partnering organization. These type of organizations allow you to take passive, active, and leadership roles to accommodate many volunteer styles. Not to mention using some creative ideas such as bread rack painting to get the job done.

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