Sunday, August 3, 2014

Volunteering: A Highlight, Not a Chore

The biggest volunteer gig I've ever done starts its second year tomorrow and I'm thrilled! I needed the summer (mostly) off to recover from last year, but now I'm rarin' to go.

Why is volunteering so energizing?

  • Commitment to your passion--Or supporting someone you love's is incredibly fulfilling. My volunteering is in support of my daughter's extracurricular activities at school and I'd like to think I make it easier both for her and for the other volunteers to have fun and succeed. There are many cogs in our wheel and they are all important to the kids having a fantastic time. And if one of them is missing, it doesn't work as smoothly.
  • Time together--I'm grateful every day I volunteer that my teenage daughter lets me be there to share her experiences with her (as long as I don't hover!). We have found a comfortable level of being together so that I am easy to reach if she needs me and I get to see what she's doing and how it's going, without getting on her nerves. I would hate to be missing these moments before she leaves for college all too soon.
  • Using your skillset--One thing I learned as a Volunteer Coordinator was: always assign people a job they like and are good at. There are extremely varied levels of skill needed on a big project (our program supports over 200 students as they perform, travel and compete). Choosing a niche that suits your specific area of expertise will be more valuable to your organization and increase your competence and confidence at the same time. I work in the Box Office and also provide content for our program's Website and Social Media accounts, right up my alley! We would all be frustrated if I got put in set building. There are always jobs available at every skill level or things to learn.
  • Make connections--Yes, it's all about the population you are serving, absolutely. But there is nothing like being thrown into a group of likeminded people under a deadline for making friends and fast. You will meet lots of different personalities--some you like better than others--but working together for a common goal builds a diverse bunch into a team. If you're lucky, some of those folks will become lifelong companions.
I will be "out of the office" tomorrow, hanging out with my teenager and her friends, cleaning and reorganizing the box office in preparation for a busy season, editing our lists of students to be ready for measuring day and enjoying the anticipation of another exciting year of showchoir. I'd love to hear about your volunteering adventures!


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