Who Me? Yes You!

You have a lot to offer. Seriously.

If you don’t feel like you have the right talent, personality or energy to volunteer, there’s a 100% chance that you’re wrong. And that’s because there’s a 100% chance that you rock.

But you may not know where or how to get started volunteering, so we’re sharing suggestions for bringing out the best in yourself – as you bring out the best in others.

The First Step

When trying to decide where to volunteer, start by taking inventory of your interests and abilities. In addition to using your professional skills and education to help others, you might have some forgotten passions that could meet the needs of someone else.

Grab a piece of paper or open a notes app on your phone so you can jot down ideas as they come to you. On that page or screen, write down anything that brings you joy, even if it doesn’t seem relevant to volunteering or you don’t think you’re good at it. Your list might look like this:

  • Cooking
  • Watching football
  • Playing video games
  • Drinking
  • Reading
  • Shopping
  • Snuggling with dogs
  • Dating
  • Traveling
  • Eating
  • Spending time on social media
  • Working out
  • Going to concerts

Now it’s time to decide if any of these interests can be used in a volunteer capacity. Let’s run through each item to see which ones can translate into serving others:

  • Cooking – Help at a food pantry or teach a basic cooking class
  • Watching football – Head to a nursing home or shelter to watch football with some of the residents
  • Playing video games – Check out organizations like Big Brothers Big Sisters or a local children’s home
  • Drinking – This one is a stretch (LOL), but perhaps you could work with a charity that’s hosting a wine-tasting event
  • Reading – Read to the elderly or blind and discuss the content with them; volunteer to teach others to read
  • Shopping – Discover organizations like Dress for Success or The Glass Slipper Project, where you can help people style outfits for job interviews or other opportunities
  • Snuggling with dogs – Foster a pet, train service animals or walk dogs for the disabled or elderly
  • Dating – Not sure how this would translate into a volunteer opportunity, so maybe this is just a “you” thing
  • Traveling – Support our veterans by serving as a guardian for an Honor Flight
  • Eating – There may not be volunteer activities based on your eating habits, but there are many civic and professional organizations that hold their meetings during breakfast, lunch or dinner
  • Spending time on social media – Find an online support group where you can share your experiences and encourage others either informally or as a group moderator; one example is the Hope After Head Injury Facebook group
  • Working out – Visit your local YMCA, park district or similar organization to see if you can help
  • Going to concerts – Volunteer at a music festival or community event

If none of these opportunities fit – or you’re just looking for more suggestions – VolunteerMatch is a great website.

Make Your Move

Jill Hawkins, Program Director of Volunteer and Civic Engagement for UIS, shares her perspective in this month’s video. With more than 15 years of experience in this field, she’s a rich resource for those who are considering volunteering.

Here’s the information Jill provided about giving back to UIS by speaking to a group of Leadership for Life students:

Volunteer and Civic Engagement Center

Follow your passion – and start making a difference today!