Since #12 is my favorite and what I like to consider “lucky” number (although every fortune cookie I’ve ever opened disagrees with me), I thought this bucket list item needed to be special.
Anyone who has seen my pictures probably knows that I’m a big fan of volunteering, fundraising, etc. and have incorporated it into my life since I was old enough for no one to force me to. I was a pediatric volunteer at the children’s hospital in college, I helped raise over $20,000 a year for the Boys and Girls Club in my first position out of college, and for the last few years, have been organizing monthly company community outreach in my current position.
As much as I love doing company events, I don’t like that I only do it once a month, and I don’t like that I have to leave those organizations every time knowing that next month we will be helping somewhere else.
Some nonprofits only need random help, but some need people to be there consistently and give their members a friend. But, to take the time to volunteer somewhere consistently, you have to really feel a connection to that organization.
Recently, I found mine.
A few weeks ago, I participated for the third year in something called Love Week hosted by Elevation Church, which makes giving back easy for Charlotteans. It’s basically a power week of hundreds of volunteer opportunities to choose from, which for me = heaven.
What I found out during Love Week is:
- There are more charities than you can even imagine that need your help locally,
- There are online portals that you can use every day to find volunteer opportunities, including these and your local churches, and
- There is an organization for almost anything!
And guess what, if something you’re personally passionate about doesn’t exist, that sounds like a good opportunity to create it 🙂
Now, if you want to give excuses, let me happily call BULLSHIT on all of them. The Top 5 I hear are:
- “I don’t have time”… Bullshit: You made time to post 900 pics of your dog/food that only you care about
- “I don’t have good knees/back/shoulders”… Bullshit: Very few organizations put “being the hulk” as their volunteer requirements, some organizations just need people to talk to!
- “I would feel too bad for them” (homeless, kids, disabled, sick)… Bullshit: Feel worse about even making that statement pretending that you have a heart. And yes, I’ve actually heard that…
- “I just don’t want to”… Probably not bullshit, and you’re a horrible human
- “I don’t know where to volunteer”… Now Bullshit: Because I’m telling you to do it anywhere!
How to start picking your organization is to think about what you’re passionate about:
- Family Struggles
- Children, etc.
There has to be SOMETHING that makes you tick and something that you’re good at. For example:
- If you played a sport and you’re good with kids, volunteer as a coach for low income children.
- If you know how to do hair and are good with conversation, volunteer at a senior home or shelter giving haircuts for free.
- If you’re good with your hands and like to paint/build, help restore a house, school or neighborhood.
- If you love to cook and want to share your talents, cook and deliver dinner for weak cancer patients, desserts for elderly who no longer have their own kitchen or children who don’t have a parent to cook for them.
- If you’re in the military and understand the hardships of war, PTSD or injury, go hang out with recovering veterans to talk, take them somewhere, or just keep them company!
You get the picture… And if you’re really just a person who is incapable of socializing and has zero talents, EVERY nonprofit needs donations to make what they do continue to happen. For example, I just hosted a cornhole tournament that other day, and we raised over $700 for the Special Olympics just off of entry fees! Here are some other ideas:
But, what I found out from volunteering for 7 straight days at all different organizations, is that as much as I love working with a variety of people in need, I found out that I am extremely passionate about motivating women, especially those with children.
Going to a women’s and children’s homeless/abuse shelter and giving them a makeover was one of the most humbling experiences of my life to see how thankful they are for something as simple as nail polish and a hug.
Going to a women’s and children’s addiction recovery center and having a cookout/field day with them was amazing, helping the parents soberly interact with their kids for the first time in a long time, and to remind the women of what having fun and being active feels like.
These are experiences I will never forget, and now I’ve found my volunteer home.
TO ADD TO YOUR BUCKET LIST: Give Back!!!!
Whether it is at random or becoming a regular, giving to someone less fortunate than yourself will help you just as much as it will help them.
And please, share some below that you are a part of to give people more ideas!