Volunteering: Where to Start

Charity begins at home. Volunteering too, is best started at home. This is a great way to contribute to any cause that is close to your heart. However, unless there is a disaster and people are needed more by numbers than by specialty, it is always good to develop the skills you would require most to contribute in the field that you are interested. For example, if you love to work with children, you could train as a pediatric nurse, or special activity teacher, and so on.

The beginning of a volunteering career

Volunteering is a wonderful thing to do. It gives you peace of mind and tremendous inner satisfaction plus it offers the opportunity to meet different people and learning about their culture and customs in a very personal way. If you want to make a difference through volunteering, you need to first analyze your own strengths and weaknesses. Here are a few steps that would help you move in the right direction:

  1. Make a list of things you can and cannot do.
  2. Work out how much time you can reserve for this activity.
  3. Identify organizations which are in tune with your focus and goals
  4. Avail relevant training within the organization; if they do not have the facility, find out what type of training or certification would be best in your line of action
  5. Give yourself time to adjust to the life of a volunteer

Where to start your volunteer career

Depending upon your age and experience, the best place to start is in your vicinity. Identify the problems your community is facing and volunteer with the local organizations. Google ‘volunteer work your-city-name’ and contact them.

Sometimes, you might find that there are certain things that should be done, but not covered by any volunteer organization in your locality. Talk it out with the local bodies and see whether you could organize something in that direction. Do not shy away from leading the action. This is the most important trait of a volunteer: leadership.

As you gather experience with this type of work, you could start networking with other volunteers to identify national and international volunteer organizations that work in the field you specialize. You could also form groups with like-minded people to volunteer together.

Use the Internet to find organizations that offer your type volunteer programs. Before you commit however, ensure that you understand well the culture and work you would be required to do. In some extreme cases, basic safety measures might not be available. Ensure you are prepared for emergencies in such cases, so you could contribute your most while keeping the levels of personal danger to the minimum extent possible.

What to expect in the beginning of your volunteer career

Volunteer work is hard work that gives you utmost pleasure. You feel good that in whatever way you can, you are making a difference for the better. At the same time, you need to be prepared to work in tandem with other volunteers who would be of different temperament, beliefs and levels of skill. Sometimes, the tasks seem insurmountable and you would feel overwhelmed and frustrated. Give yourself time and be patient with yourself and others; also try to always be a solution seeker. There is no scope for self-pity in the volunteer world.

Do not be shy to ask questions or help when you are stuck with a problem. If you feel that things could be handled better, make suggestions. Keep in mind that other volunteers or the organization might have received their fair share of ‘suggestions’, and hence might not jump up for joy when you suggest a ‘better’ way to do things.

Do not forget to have fun. Volunteer work is a wonderful way to learn about people, new places and new ways of life. Always remember to find ways to make each volunteer mission memorable to yourself as well as for the others with whom you come in contact.

Online resources:

  • http://www.volunteermatch.org/ - this is an exceptional site, which offers you all the information you need to start your volunteer career in USA. Check out their virtual volunteer option.
  • 1800volunteer.com - this is a huge directory of volunteer organizations, opportunities and events that could help identify the right type of work for you
  • http://www.volunteerunlimited.org/ - you will find here all the information you would need for starting your volunteer career: low cost flights, accommodation, travel arrangements options, plus a huge country-wise list of volunteer organizations.

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Simplyoj (Joy L. Carnay) Simplyoj (Joy L. Carnay)
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Posted on Jan 23, 2010