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Volunteering Part 1: Helping Others, Helping Yourself


This is the first article in our 2-part series examining how to find local volunteering opportunities.

Finding the time to volunteer might seem like a daunting task these days, as most of us are busier than ever.

However, those who lead volunteer agencies say whether you can give one hour or dozens, there is a job for you—be it onsite at an agency, school, church or other facility, or from the comfort of your home or office.

And gone are the days in which potential volunteers had to call organizations to find out what, if any, help was needed.

In hopes of simplifying the process, agency leaders are utilizing websites and social media, such as Facebook and LinkedIn, to explain their purpose, needs, and what they are looking for in a volunteer.

Fear not, if you feel like you don’t have any special skills or great talents, there are still ways you can assist. You’ll not only be helping others, but likely find yourself rewarded, as well.

“I’m not a couch potato”

During his years of volunteering, Bill Cline, also of Sanford, NC, has used some of his know-how to teach those searching for jobs how to write effective resumes and help Habitat for Humanity build houses.  He also has performed relatively simple tasks such as sorting clothes for the Salvation Army, serving up meat and potatoes for a soup kitchen, and delivering meals to those in need as a driver for Meals On Wheels.

Now he has started the Sanford Job Express, a non-profit organization that provides transportation to work and job interviews for those without vehicles or the money to spend on the typical and often costly means of public transportation.

“I’m not a good couch potato, I guess,” said Cline, who retired in 2007 after working as settlement negotiator for a law firm. “Like so many people, I wanted to help. And I’ve been blessed to find ways to do that.”

Thinking about Becoming a Volunteer?

Kendra Martin, who is coordinator of VolunteerLee.com, a site operated by the United Way of Lee County in North Carolina, offers the following advice to those considering volunteer work:

1. Think about what you are passionate about. Maybe it’s education, hunger relief, or neighborhood revitalization. An agency whose mission lines up with your passion is a great place to start.

2. What are your skills? It might help to make a list. This will help you clarify what you can offer. Also think about what you’d like to learn. Volunteering is a great way to learn new skills.

3. Consider your availability. Can you help any time, or are you free only on weekends? How about a virtual or web-based task?

Do you want to find local volunteer opportunities? Read Part 2 to learn more.

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