Manning his station to serve food at the local shelter, which he LOVES.
He's not overly fond of the hairnet as a fashion accessory, but I think he really rocks the look. ;)
1. Find your niche. There are so many opportunities available for volunteering, that it's okay to find your niche. Try something out once or twice, see if you like it, and if you don't, that's okay! When you're just starting out as a volunteer, you haven't made a long-term commitment (and you may never do so, which is 100% fine too!), so if you don't like what it is you're doing, simply move on to something or somewhere else. We have volunteered as a family at many functions and events within the community, and not all of them have worked out for one reason or another. My youngest, however, has now found his niche. He absolutely LOVES helping serve food to homeless people at one of the local shelters. He's good at it too, and the visitors and/or residents look forward to seeing him behind the counter.
2. Get the family involved. My kids do understand the value of helping others. By reaching out to those who need it, and helping to make a real difference, they see and get a better understanding of how team work is important. They also start to realize that they are not as 'unlucky' as they might sometimes think (ex. being sad they didn't get an iPad or something else that is pricey).That's a big deal to me, because we do live in a very privileged society. Don't get me wrong, I'm grateful we do, but it's important that our kids realize not everyone has all they could want and more. Additionally, they get to be a part of something bigger than themselves, which is imperative for so many reasons, including that it helps set the tone for their future decisions. As they continue to get older, if they've had a solid foundation that has included consistently and joyfully participating in volunteer events in and around their community, they will likely seek out ways as they grow into young adults that will allow them to remain actively involved in philanthropy . By teaching them at a young age, the value of giving their time and talents, you're setting them up to pay it forward all throughout their future adult lives. What's not to love about that?
|Marking out the UPC symbols at a community food drive.|
3. Make sure you are fulfilled. Yes, volunteer activities are about focusing on other people and things, but make sure you're also feeling fulfilled in whatever it is you are doing. When you feel happy and enriched, it is pretty much guaranteed that you will be bringing your 'all,' emotionally and physically, to the table. Why would you want to bring anything less? The old saying that you have to take care of yourself before you can take care of others holds true here. Find that which makes your heart happy, and volunteer work will no longer be classified as 'work,' instead it will be a joy for you, and for those around you as well.
4. Expand your horizons. The primary reason for doing volunteer work, at least in my book, is to shift your focus off of yourself and reach out to help others. Don't be afraid though, to embrace the benefits as well! Volunteer work can help enrich your knowledge of people, places and things. It can enable you to make new like-minded friends. It can also open doors for you that you might not have even know existed. Embrace those things and more, as you work with others for others. Chances are high the blessings you receive, will also help you further bless others.
5. My final tip: Do not get overwhelmed! Once you get serious about volunteering, and other people start to see it, it is highly likely that your participation will be highly sought out. Remember that it is okay to say, 'no.' You want the efforts you put forth to be from your heart. When they start becoming a burden instead of a joy, resentment or discontent can quickly take root. Be proactive and stop that from happening by doing the amount and type of volunteer work you can handle, and that which is pleasurable to you. One of the best things about 'volunteering' is you get to specify the time, hours, effort, etc. that you want to expend. Take advantage of that and do not overextend yourself. In the end, everyone will be thankful, most especially you. :)