Welcoming a new year is the perfect opportunity to make new choices and set goals for yourself and your family. Whether your resolutions include eating healthier, exercising more, reading more books, learning a new skill, or something else entirely, there’s one resolution you won’t regret: giving back to your community.
Volunteering can be as big or small a commitment as time allows, but it’s always time worth spending. Not only are you lending a hand to those in need, you’re guaranteed to feel good about it and are setting a good example for others in your life. If you would like to add more time volunteering or giving back to your list of 2019 resolutions, here are some tips to help you get started:
- Know the issues that are important to you. Is it disadvantaged youth? Access to food and clean water? Veterans? Homelessness? The environment? Volunteering your time to support a cause that is near to your heart will help you stick with something for the long term.
- Identify the skills you can offer. Do you have special training you can pass along? Are you creative or musically inclined? Do you have equipment that may be useful? You can look for volunteer work that incorporates your hobbies, interests and special skills, or if you’d like to develop something further, volunteering may be a great opportunity to do so.
- Stay close to home. As with therapy or exercise, if your volunteer commitments are too far or difficult to get to, it will be easier to stop going. OneOC.org and CreateTheGood.org are great resource to find local volunteer opportunities year-round.
- Consider volunteering as a group, with your friends, family or neighbors. There are numerous volunteer opportunities you can do together – even parents and children. When a group volunteers together, the experience can bring them closer together, teach the value of giving and introduce new members to skills and experiences they may have never encountered. It may also keep you committed, as you won’t want to let your group down!
- Think outside the box. Many community-based organizations are looking for volunteers, and some may not have crossed your mind. Most people know about opportunities to serve at food banks, soup kitchens, and holiday-time “adopt a family” programs. But, there are many more opportunities that you may not have considered such as tutoring and mentoring, assisting high school students with college applications and GED programs, conducting research, grant writing assistance, data analysis, marketing and fundraising, conducting door-to-door outreach, teaching health education classes, and much more.
- Don’t over-commit. Be sure the hours you want to give will fit in with your other obligations. Honestly assess how much time you can give, and rearrange your schedule as necessary. If you are not sure how your volunteer commitments will fit into your lifestyle, try starting with a one-day commitment (such as MLK Jr. Day of Service on Jan. 21, 2019) or ask for a limited schedule. It is better to start slowly than over commit yourself to something your schedule can’t handle.
By volunteering in 2019 and beyond, you can bring your gifts to others who need it most. Millions of people volunteer each year, and if even more people in our community gave the gift of time, imagine what more we could accomplish!
Do you have a volunteer opportunity or story you’d like to share with us? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.