Sunday, January 10, 2010

Volunteerism, The Rest of The Challenge

When I first wrote my entry for the 88th Carnival of Genealogy the following is what I wrote, then I re-read the challenge and realized, ooops, off base a bit. So, I went back and rewrote the entry, discussing my volunteer efforts. I don’t particularly like talking about what I do, giving for me comes from the heart. Rather than just delete what I had written, I now present it, what I really wanted to say about Volunteering.

VOLUNTEERING, PART TWO

My experience in volunteering gives me what I think is a bit of a unique advantage, as I have been a volunteer and have been the coordinator of several projects overseeing volunteers. So, I would like to chat about some other facets of volunteering.

I DON’T HAVE TIME

Volunteering can be a HUGE part of your life, it can take up giant hunks of your time. OR NOT!! Many organizations asking for your time will take an hour, or even less, if that is all you have to offer. Organizations always seem to be begging for help, believe me, they will take as much or as little as you have to share.

I DON’T HAVE ANYTHING TO OFFER

You don’t have to be super talented or experienced, you only need to WANT to give back, the organizations will train you, and honestly, a lot of the duties are not that hard, they just need to be done, someone simply needs to take a hunk of time to “get er done”. YOU CAN DO IT!!

START WITH BABY STEPS

Don’t over extend yourself. Start small. Believe me, if you take on too much you will start to resent the time and energies required. I would rather have 10 volunteers each doing 10 minutes a day, than 1 who tries to take on commitments of 10 hours a week. Be realistic about your life, your other commitments, figure in emergencies, job time, family and home maintenance time, and then put in a fudge factor for any other “situation” that comes up, how much time is left?? Save a chunk of that for YOU (reading, the bubble bath, sitting and watching the birds at the feeder). NOW, volunteer! You still have time, it is up to you to choose how to utilize the 24/7/365 you are given each year.

WHAT DO I HAVE TO OFFER?

I think one of the most compelling reasons to volunteer is that you are familiar with the locality. I know what the rules are at the courthouse, I know where to find obituaries in my county, I know what resources are available. My knowledge is what allows me to help others. You have that knowledge too, here is a great way to share it and really make it count!

GOOD MANNERS, THANK YOU

Another one of my soapbox subjects concerning volunteering is THANKING THEM! Bottom line, you asked someone to take time from their lives to help you. THANK THEM!! It will not take you as long to thank them as it did for them to help you! Thanking your volunteers will do a lot to keep them on the job. We all want to be appreciated, recognized. Volunteers that never hear thank you, well, they go away. I feel strongly enough about thanking volunteers that I have written several posts about just that, one was Is your volunteer a bit prickly? Which was followed up shortly thereafter by Volunteers, escorted away??

GOSH DURN IT FEELS KINDA NICE HELPING OTHERS

Need an upper to keep ya going?? Well, let me tell you, helping others is the greatest natural high you can have - short of breaking down that brick wall after 15 years of trying. A few years back I did some lookups for a gal. She was looking for underlying medical illnesses, searching hard for answers to why her children were afflicted with some rare disease. No, we did not find the answers to that question, but I did find her grandmother’s death and obituary. I wrote her an email, outlining my finds. Her response was so emotional, I swear I could hear her tears. Yep, a pure and simple “feel good” moment.

VOLUNTEERISM, A VERY GOOD THING

Try it, small baby steps, one obituary at a time, one cemetery visit, one headstone at a time. You can do it, and you will make a difference to someone. Wanna smile, wanna feel good about you,

VOLUNTEER.



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3 comments:

Tracy said...

Well said! Everyone can offer a little bit of something.

Karen said...

How very true! Most of us have a genealogy book or two laying around that we could do lookups from, and you don't even have to leave the comfort of your home. And once you get started helping people, it's downright addicting!

J.M. said...

Very true, and very inspiring! I might go looking for a project that I can devote some time to.