Volunteering: Icing on the Cake

This week I had the opportunity to attend the Northern Nevada Chamber of Commerce Slices for Service event.  It was very inspiring!  The Chamber brought together about 20 community organizations (non-profit, government & education) with Chamber members to match people with volunteer jobs during these tough economic times.  One of the speakers, Doug Doolittle, Director, Washoe County Regional Parks, said the park budget has been cut by 60% but they are committed to keeping our parks “open, safe & clean”.   It can only be done with volunteers – that’s you, me and our colleagues.  But there are wonderful benefits for the potential volunteer as well.  So here’s my pitch . . .

Are you stuck?  Maybe in a job that has become too routine; doing work that doesn’t use your real skills or maybe locked into a position that doesn’t encourage you to stretch and grow.  But before you quit your day job out of frustration or boredom,  think about changing things up a bit with volunteering.  It will be easier on your wallet and add that “icing on the cake” without a drastic life move.  And you take away new skills, meet new “like-minded” friends and leave with a feeling of being needed, appreciated and productive.   If you’ve recently been laid off and are between jobs these benefits are even doubled!  So here’s how to get started . . .

What Feeds Your Heart & Soul?

Start with what you are passionate about. What puts a sparkle in your eyes and a spring in your step?  Maybe it’s animals; the environment; children; music/theater; art; the environment; schools; libraries; crisis services; food & housing . . . the list is huge.   Know that there are so many needs in our community that your time and energy will be very welcomed.  You may even wind up choosing a couple of opportunities.   Select 2-3 areas that you are passionate about to start researching.

Who’s Doing What?

Ask friends, family, work colleagues who they know who knows someone else that is doing volunteer work in these areas.  It’s like unraveling a ball of string.  Research what organizations are involved in your passion by looking in the paper, on-line . . . even on the bulletin boards at Starbucks.  You’ll be surprised how easy it is to tap into the volunteer and non-profit robust fast-moving network.

Call & Show Up!

Now contact the organizations you’re interested in.  One of the best resources is the RSVP program at UNR 775-784-1807.  They are a clearinghouse matching volunteers with dozens of needy organizations.  Also go on the Washoe County website and look for the volunteer sign-up form & list.  Sign up for something that stretches you a bit, challenges you and adds to your skills.  This is a great way to learn, grow, contribute and add that “icing to the cake”.

Then call and let me know how it went.  Even better meet me up on the Tahoe Rim trail.  We’ll do some clearing of brush and timbers!

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