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Volunteerism in America

Happy Thursday afternoon, y’all! Hope you’re having a wonderful week!

First of all, HUGE response on loving I Side With from my post this morning. I love you silent readers, because y’all are ACTIVE. I hope it helped you to feel more knowledgeable about the current issues and candidates – I know that I found it to be incredibly informative and enlightening!

But now on to my topic for this afternoon…

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Earlier this week, I attended a fantastic Junior League of Denver General Meeting where we had a wonderful speaker by the name of Vicki Floyd Clark. While this presentation was catered towards the Junior League (let me know if you’re more interested in learning more about my history there), the facts and figures should be fascinating to anyone, and absolutely changed the way I think about service.

First some facts:

  • An average volunteer hour is worth ~$23/hour, based on skill and expertise
  • 62.5% of Americans do at least some form of informal volunteer work, whether that’s helping a neighbor or through an organized forum
  • In general, Americans volunteer an average of 32.1 hours/resident/year
  • For those in Denver specifically, we are ranked 11th in the nation in terms of volunteer hours/resident compared to other metropolitan MSAs (big cities, including D.C.) in the nation

Now I don’t know about you, but I found these stats to be incredibly encouraging! When volunteering time and energy, it can often feel like you’re the only one who cares. But these statistics tell a completely different story. While potentially you’re one of few volunteering in a specific field (hopefully not), the general nature of Americans is to help others to ultimately make the world a better place.

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While these stats were informative, Vicki also gave a few great recommendations on ways to be involved in volunteering service, without getting stuck in a rut. (We all hit one sooner or later, right?!) These are also helpful for finding the right volunteer opportunity for whatever phase of life you might be in at this moment.

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  1. Determine your type of service: Direct, Indirect, Capacity Building, Advocacy – Maybe you like seeing the end product of your work?  Then Direct service might be your style.  Maybe you like talking to people and “selling”?  Then Advocacy work is up your alley.  Determine what speaks to you and there will always be a role that fits it.  And this may change over time.  Be comfortable and aware of these changes to make sure that you’re staying involved in a way that fits you.
  2. People fluctuate all over the volunteering involvement spectrum, and that’s a GOOD thing – Some people just want to serve sporadically and some people want to get incredibly involved on an everyday basis.  More likely, people will fluctuate between the two, and that’s GREAT!  You don’t want to feel uninvolved, and you don’t want to feel burnt out.  So be comfortable and willing to allow your involvement level to be fluid to what works for you at this time in your life.
  3. Find a volunteer opportunity that builds into your life, not one that overtakes it – Often, I’ve found myself volunteering for anything that comes my way, whether or not I have the time available in my day.  Volunteer opportunities should not only be you building into your community, but also the other way around.  Do you need to work on a specific skill in your day job?  Are you a mother looking for a social atmosphere away from the family an hour a week?  Is there something lacking in your day job that you want to build into your life?  (Ex, I rarely see the end result of my daily work, so I’m the direct service person above.)  A non-profit volunteer opportunity is the PERFECT place to build that into your life, rather than feeling like you have to attend something specific.  You get the opportunity to fill an outlet that would otherwise not be available at all!

JOIN THE CONVERSATION

How have you, or do you, like to volunteer? Have you found the right volunteer opportunity for you? If so, how did you know it was right? If not, what might that opportunity look like?

Create a great life!

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4 Comments

  • Reply sayyestohappy

    love this post! i have always volunteered on and off since high school. it’s something i want to get back to next month when I move and am a little more settled.

    October 1, 2015 at 5:28 pm
    • Reply semisweettooth

      Fantastic! And it’s such a great way to meet people in a new area, too. ?

      October 2, 2015 at 9:40 am
  • Reply Daisy9979

    I was a Red Cross volunteer then I moved and started a new job. One of the best things is the Red Cross has chapters all over the world so it’s easy to transfer. I’ve been meaning to jump online to switch chapters and get back into it, this post serves as a perfect reminder.

    October 1, 2015 at 9:15 pm
    • Reply semisweettooth

      Fantastic! I always take a minute after a big move to let the dust settle. But I hope you jump back into volunteering when it works for you! 🙂

      October 2, 2015 at 9:46 am

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