Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Top Ten {Tuesday}: Volunteering Makes My Day

At GT FASET Orientation with balloons, Summer '05.
I have always loved contributing my time towards programs and causes that fit with my own interests. In college, I spent years working with our orientation program, helping incoming freshmen feel right at home from the moment they stepped on campus. And if I wasn't busy with schoolwork, I was meeting with a group of gray-haired alumni for a bus tour around campus. Weekend mornings were filled with planning functions, or meeting up with younger students hoping for a mentorship. I loved it.

Since graduating from college, I have been struggling with finding the right balance of volunteerism in my life, however. Some months are so busy with my job and with my own personal life, that I wonder when I might have time to sit down and think creatively for how to draw attendance to that upcoming fundraiser or how to jazz up plans for a networking event. I will admit to openly ignoring emails about groups needing volunteers to help with one thing or another, even for things that in the past I might have gladly jumped at. Once I commit to a project, putting it at the top of my own priorities has been difficult, too, when all I want to do at the end of a long work day is watch TV and maybe, maybe, write a new blog post here and there.

Today, in honor of Top Ten {Tuesday}, I am recapping for myself and you why I LOVE giving time back. Take it as part self-motivation (I have some things to be done in the short term that I keep putting off haha...) and part-motivation for you, too, since I know many of my friends long to feel the satisfaction of helping others.

Top Ten {Tuesday}
Top Ten {Tuesday}: Why Volunteering Makes My Day

1. Share your skills. The group needing your help needs it for a reason -- they have a void, and you have a skill set that fits that void. If you commit to helping, you can help them and their causes succeed.

2.  Help makes the world go 'round. I love thinking about the younger people that I have worked with, whether it was a mentoring relationship, answering questions, or even just looking over their resumes and sharing my feedback. Why shouldn't I share some of my learnings with them? I am where I am now thanks to a lot of older people helping me, too. It's a win-win to pass it along!

3. I am in charge of my commitment levels. The great thing about giving your time to an organization is that you set your own boundaries and are often in charge of your own tasks. For example, I love doing event planning, but don't always have the time to execute every last detail. When I can, I try and take on roles that let me participate at levels that work for me.

4. Being creative is fun! Some of my favorite roles have challenged me beyond my usual day-to-day tasks, and help me think about the world around me in a new way. This bleeds back into my professional and personal life, giving me new skills or new ideas to tackle.

5. Explore a new interest and build talent. After working for years with the Events Department at the GT Alumni Association, I took the opportunity to find volunteer spots to inject that experience and build on it, all the while helping out a group that needed it. Now here I am today, wouldn't you know it, Miss I Love Planning Events-Central.

6. Networking 101. Volunteerism is at the very heart of networking. You never know who you are going to meet when you join in with that church group or show up for a day of yard work at the local park. You might walk away without any new friends, but it is much more likely that you will walk away knowing at least one or two people that share common career goals or other interests. Keep in touch with those people -- they could become your next job link!

7. It's good to have a change of scenery. Whether literally (volunteer in a different part of town than you usually hang out in) or emotionally (new group of people, new challenges, etc.), those flips from your normal life are rejuvenating.

8. You are helping people who need your support. Duh. :)

9. The feeling of accomplishment at the end can't be beat. Regardless of whether you are thanked publicly or if you go unnoticed for your efforts, volunteering gives you a wonderful boost of spirit and YAY.

10. This list is no where near complete. Why do YOU give your time to others? What ways have you found to balance those priorities with your other daily duties?