At eTapestry we had regular service project days and since all eTapestry clients are charities, it was a no-brainer on where to find places to volunteer. And we would get paid half-days to volunteer (after the purchase of Blackbaud you could even accumulate more days off by volunteering). Today they call this stuff “corporate social responsibility” (Forbes article on CSR).
I’m not always jazzed about the physical or mindless work — although I’ve built Habitat for Humanity homes in Gulfport Mississippi (after Katrina), built a home outside Tijuana, and provided medical clinics to people in Haiti — Food pantries, serving meals, several landscaping, house cleaning/repair efforts — not fun during, but always glad to have done it.
Currently, I’m volunteering as board member at 2 charities (Safe Families, Mary Rigg), a youth mentor with another, and a “Sunday” school teacher (on Saturdays). [The board activities–that’s been a great surprise and fun, and the youth and kids stuff I actually love the doing part.]
At our church two years ago, they *repeatedly* asked for literally hundreds of people to volunteer for our GKC which is basically Sunday School. It takes close to 1000 volunteers to support GKC. After my wife also encouraged me to do it as well, I figured since I have a gift for children–genetically passed by my dad (“kid whisperer”, I’ve been called) I agreed to sign up — however, for “every other” week! I wasn’t committing weekly…Long story short – I now go every week and maybe the only volunteer who is working year-round without taking the built-in summer break. A good friend of mine Susan Ingram calls me a “junkie” for all the things I do.
You should start getting involved like this. Like the old adage says, find what you are very passionate about, that you really have a passion toward (or an affinity to) and give it a whirl. If you don’t think you have time, in almost all cases, that’s self-created or self-determined. I volunteer with doctors who are extremely busy. We also volunteer with a family who has 4 children (college to grade school), one teen with cerebral palsy and they have 1 adopted from Asia. Both parents work. You are not busier than they are!
You might also be getting a nudge to volunteer, if you’re paying attention. I was not planning on being a youth mentor at all and after going to a leadership conference realized I was already mentoring and then officially signed up with Shepherd Community Center’s amazing mentoring program.
In that corporate social responsibility article above it talks about a company being “carbon neutral” for the last seven years. I think that’s a very cool phrase. However, with the right kind volunteering we can further things beyond an earthly-impact.
The word volunteering might ring negatively right off the bat for you. Yeah, me too. But now I’m also a certified volunteer-freak. My advice then is to Get a little freaky? Or, freak out a little.