Volunteering – A Gift that Comes Full Circle

Posted on October 07, 2010 by Veronica Taylor

Many of us say we’d like to volunteer, but we put off the actual steps to begin this adventurous and rewarding gift for any number of reasons.

We don’t know where or how to get started. We have so many organizations and causes that interest us that it’s hard to decide where to start. We are concerned that volunteering will take up too much time – time that many working people have to spread among a number of roles. We are not sure we have anything of value to offer. We want to make an impact and not just “spend time.”  We want to make the right decision about where and how to volunteer.

In the past several decades, volunteerism has seen resurgence in our country.  School systems have made community volunteerism part of their normal programs for students of all ages. President Bush (One) made the theme of “A Thousand Points of Light” a truly beautiful concept. Volunteer centers exist in just about every community and offer a huge array of possible opportunities.

If you’ve ever thought about volunteering and just haven’t “got started,” think about picking up the phone and calling your local volunteer center. Go and meet with a volunteer coordinator and learn about options for you to volunteer in any number of organizations.

You can even consider “virtual volunteering,” a way to volunteer without ever leaving your house. Online volunteering opportunities are growing, and offer you interesting activities as well as the flexibility to give your time and effort at your own convenience. Call a local agency or organization in which you’ve had some interest, and schedule a visit. Tour the organization; talk with staff and other volunteers.  If you invest a little time in exploring your options, you will find that they are many in number and rich in variety.

You can also consider volunteering on a small scale in your local community.  In my condo association, we have some folks who volunteer once a month to deliver our neighborhood newsletter to each door in our community. I hope they realize that for many of our seniors who don’t get out a lot, that newsletter delivery is really appreciated!

One thing to remember, once you identify an opportunity, is to be willing to give it a good, solid try.  One community leader commented to me that volunteers are really necessary and are depended upon to do their part. Take the time to find an opportunity that really matches your experiences, knowledge and interests and then Go For It.

I’m currently exploring a new volunteer opportunity – becoming a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) member and forming an Emergency Operations Team in my neighborhood. Interested? Tune in to our blog in the next few weeks and I’ll have more information for you.

In the meantime, check out these volunteer organizations and “take the next step” to giving a gift not only to your neighbors but also to yourself.  Become a volunteer!

Sarasota County:  Friendship Volunteer Center – 941-953-5965 – www.FriendshipVolunteer.com

Manatee County:  HandsOnManatee – 941-761-3207 – www.volunteermanatee.org

Charlotte County:  United Way of Charlotte County – 941-627-3539 – www.unitedwayccfl.org

DeSoto County:  Contact individual agencies directly, or to identify possible agencies, call Manasota 211 at “211” or 941-308-4357

Statewide:  Check out www.volunteerflorida.org


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