Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Neighboring - Neighbors helping neighbors

Neighbors help neighbors. Every day, they use their time and their gifts to strengthen families and communities. Many, especially those living in under-resourced communities, work hard to deal with the challenges of communities where unemployment, violence, and drugs are taking their toll. In the face of these obstacles, community residents look for the connections to vital resources that will improve their odds of succeeding.

There may be no better example of neighbor helping neighbor—volunteering—than the time-honored American tradition of barn-raising. From the earliest days of our country, neighbors would gather at a homestead and work together to build a barn, often in a single day. Neighbors lent a hand when they became aware of neighbors they could help. They took responsibility for one another. More than barns were built in the process. True bonds of community spirit were forged.

You might not think you’ve seen a good barn-raising lately, but they are happening around you all the time. The tools have changed, and what is built may not actually be a barn, but the spirit of volunteerism is alive and well in cities, towns, and rural communities everywhere. We need to tap into that irrepressible volunteer spirit to address some of the most entrenched challenges in America's most challenged communities. You can provide a renewed sense of hope and the means to build a better future for individuals and families based on connections forged through common goals, mutual respect, responsibility, and ownership. Provide the tools, and use people’s skills and talents to find collective solutions to create family-supportive communities, networks, and opportunities necessary to bring neighbors together.

The good news is that volunteering is not only already present in under-resourced communities, it is crucial to the lives of everyone in them. People may not be building barns, but they are practicing tried-and-true barn-raising principles that you can tap into and encourage. Some quick snapshots tell the story: A neighbor guides children across a busy intersection on the way to school. A young friend makes meals for an elderly woman confined to a wheelchair. A next-door neighbor takes care of a single mom’s small children while she attends night school. Neighbors are helping neighbors in communities everywhere. The service that takes place in low-income communities, however, is often informal, organic, not recognized as volunteering—even by those who do it. The term we used for stepping in to take care of others in our community is Neighboring.

Mainstream volunteering, in which agencies swoop in to “rescue” residents, does not recognize Neighboring. It does not capitalize on the good deeds already being done in the community or use them to make lasting changes. And often members of vulnerable communities don’t respond well to those efforts. That is why it is imperative that organizations seeking to work in under-resourced 3 communities see residents not merely as recipients but as equal partners and viable agents of change. With this new understanding, organizations from grassroots to national groups can empower communities, engage residents, and build the capacity of residents to find creative solutions to local issues.

Points of Light Institute and HandsOn Network have embraced Neighboring as a strategy to strengthen families since 1996. Through Neighboring, natural neighbor-to-neighbor helping that strengthens children, families, and communities is encouraged and supported. This type of help does not replace the assistance provided by traditional volunteers. Instead, Neighboring underscores that help need not come from outside a community but can come from within.

The goal is to inspire, equip, and mobilize more nonprofit organizations to see their most challenged communities as places of promise—places where resident skills, talents, and desires are seen as wealth on which to capitalize in order to create sustained, lasting change.


Points of Light Institute and HandsOn Network


Monday, July 10, 2017

Summer Volunteering - Connecting with Community

Youth and Teens:

The summer is here and so are many volunteering opportunities for youth and teenagers out of school. Through volunteerism, teens have the power to positively impact their community! Youth may want to consider volunteering their time to a community organization. There are many different reasons for you to start volunteering:
  • Volunteering provides professional experience for teenagers. It can provide an opportunity to see potential career paths and options.
  • Summer volunteering looks good on resumes for future jobs. Employers like to see what you've done between jobs, after graduation and during your free time.
  • Teenagers who volunteer in the summer can use this valuable experience and include it in their applications for college.
  • Volunteering also promotes personal growth. It can help youth and teens grow as individuals. They can discover hidden talents they might not know they had.
  • Summer volunteering provides a learning experience. Youth can learn more about community needs. It can help you learn about different organizations and different parts of our government.
  • When people volunteer it can gets them out of their comfort zone. It brings people together from diverse backgrounds. Everyone builds fellowship and team working skills.

Families:

During the summer season families move away from the hectic pace of their everyday lives. Any vacation is a chance for families to reconnect. There are no soccer games, no piano recitals, and no working late, so families finally have precious time together.

Families can volunteer in their community. The Volunteer Center of Cedar Valley represents 159 nonprofits with over 170 active volunteer opportunities. Families can benefit significantly by sharing their time and compassion with a group in need. 

If families really want a meaningful break from their usual schedule, consider an option that might be outside of your comfort level by changing the way your children view the world. Consider a volunteer vacation.

With some planning, families have the potential to get a rare opportunity to be immersed in another culture, help a community build houses, or learn English. If volunteering in Guatemala is too much for your family, consider a learning vacation, where your family is involved in an archaeological dig in Colorado or numerous additional volunteer vacations.

Many organizations feature opportunities for children, but be sure to check minimum age.

Older Adults:

Older Iowans looking for volunteer opportunities have a range to select from. Whatever their interests and abilities, they can put their time, skills and experience to good use.

Volunteering can be a fulfilling and enjoyable activity for people of any age. For older adults in particular, volunteering can help keep their body and mind active after retirement, while providing an opportunity to get out of the house and socialize with others.

Retirement is the time to live out your passion; feed the homeless, get involved in the neighborhood, teach youth about art at a local art museum, or volunteer in other countries. Older adults should do what they’ve always wanted to do and didn’t have time to do before.

Volunteering can increase the quality of life for older adults. 98% of older adults who volunteer stay active and feel better physically and emotionally. Recent research shows that giving back results in increased activity, which often results in improved health. Service also gives volunteers a purpose, which many find to be important.

The Volunteer Center of Cedar Valley works to promote and support effective volunteerism and to serve as the resource and coordination center for volunteers and community partnerships.

To secure volunteer opportunities contact the Volunteer Center of Cedar Valley at information@vccv.org or (319) 272-2087. Volunteer opportunities may also be accessed at www.vccv.org.



Wednesday, July 5, 2017

10 of the Best Volunteer Abroad Organizations

Volunteering is becoming more common place in the United States, and while there will always be more to accomplish locally, there are also ways to serve world-wide. Consider voluntouring or volunteering abroad.

Here is a list of reputable agencies that offer numerous experiences:

1. GO ECO
WHAT: If you love travel and are passionate about planet conservation, Go Eco is your resource for pairing your hobby with meaning.
JUST CAUSE: Challenged communities, wildlife and the environment.
WHERE: All over the world.
WHAT: A bridge year program that places graduating seniors in projects in far-flung and challenged regions. Global Citizen Year's mission is to cultivate prospective societal leaders and social entrepreneurs, giving them experience and tools to create impact.
JUST CAUSE: Various projects in challenged regions.
WHERE: Brazil, Ecuador and Senegal.
WHAT: Self-described as a “directory of meaningful holidays and travel opportunities”, One World 365 offers a wide variety of volunteer and offshore temporary holiday jobs.
JUST CAUSE: Various.
WHERE: Worldwide.
4. WWOOF
WHAT: World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, or WWOOF, is a global network of organizations that matches volunteers with organic farms worldwide. In return for volunteer work, hosts provide food and accommodation.
JUST CAUSE: Organic farming.
WHERE: Worldwide.
5. BUNAC 
WHAT: A large variety of volunteer, work and summer camp programs is available on Bunac, an organization that has been around the block since 1962.
JUST CAUSE: Various.
WHERE: USA, Canada, New Zealand, Ghana, Australia, Britain, China, South Africa and many more.
WHAT: The American Hiking Society runs volunteer vacations in the form of trail building projects in the US. If you love the outdoors, you’ll love this opportunity to explore - volunteers enjoy backpacking or hiking tours provided by the host agency or organization.
JUST CAUSE: Building trails in public American land.
WHERE: All over the US.
WHAT: A pioneer of volunteer vacations organizations, Global Volunteers was founded in 1984 - that is, long before it was a trend. It has since been recruiting short-term volunteers for various projects overseas.
JUST CAUSE: Projects for the benefit and welfare of children and youth.
WHERE: All over the world.
WHAT: A user-friendly search engine for volunteer abroad projects culled from a variety of organizations.
JUST CAUSE: Categories include Community Development, Environment & Wildlife, Learn Abroad, Teach & Coach Overseas and Women & Youth.
WHERE: Worldwide.
WHAT: Projects Abroad one of the more large-scale volunteer abroad organizations out there; it matches volunteers with a tremendous range of projects worldwide. According to their website, they cater to volunteers aged from 16 to 75; as it turns out, there's a growing interest in volunteer abroad projects among retirees and career breakers.
JUST CAUSE: A variety of projects from archeology and building to sports and medicine.
WHERE: Worldwide.
WHAT: GeoVisions offers opportunities for volunteering abroad alongside paid English teaching and au-pair gigs.
JUST CAUSE: Various.
WHERE: Worldwide.


The Volunteer Center of Cedar Valley has numerous current volunteer opportunities available with 159 local non-profit agencies. To secure volunteer opportunities call the Volunteer Center of Cedar Valley at 272-2087 or email information@vccv.org.Volunteer opportunities may also be accessed at www.vccv.org.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Summer Volunteering: Service Stay-cation

Are your friends going to exciting places for summer vacation while you have to stay home?  Are you depressed that you have no money for that plane ticket for an exotic vacation?  Do you think summer will be boring?

Never fear, we have a solution to cheer you up and make this summer memorable. This summer you have an opportunity to build self-esteem, develop problem solving skills, gain experience as you build a resume, and learn the value of helping others.

Volunteer in the Cedar Valley!

Interested in volunteering this summer because you want to try something new, gain some experience in a certain field, earn service hours, give back to your community, or just to get out of the house? Take a look at some of the opportunities below:

  •         ASPIRE Therapeutic Riding: Class Helpers, Horse Leaders and Sidewalkers
  •         Cedar Valley Arboretum and Botanic Gardens: Weed flower beds, water
  •         Cedar Valley Association of Soft Trails: Clean trails
  •         Hartman Reserve Nature Center: Clean trails, assist with property and trail maintenance
  •         Northeast Iowa Food Bank: Sort food donations, stock shelves, pack food packs, and assist with weeding, watering and picking produce from community garden.
  •         Country View Care Facility: Play games with residents
  •         Grout Museum District: Assist with one-time events, help with mailings
  •         North Star: Take part in crafts and activities and play games
  •         Salvation Army: Help prepare and serve noon meal
  •         Northeast Iowa Area Agency on Aging: Design and create cards, placemats, and other decorations to go with delivered meals


Here are some other ideas you can do on your own!
  •         Make play dough and take to day care center
  •         Volunteer to bag cat and dog food or make fleece blankets and pull toys for the Cedar Valley Humane Society
  •         Collect cans and bottles to give money to agency of choice
  •         Have a lemonade stand or bake sale and give money to agency of choice


The Volunteer Center of Cedar Valley has numerous current volunteer opportunities available with 159 local non-profit agencies. To secure volunteer opportunities call the Volunteer Center of Cedar Valley at 272-2087 or email information@vccv.org.Volunteer opportunities may also be accessed at www.vccv.org.


Monday, June 19, 2017

65 Ways Kids Can Make a Difference This Summer!

Sharing
1. Seniors love your artwork! Brighten walls – and smiles – at the local senior center.
2. Got a favorite game? Teach it to younger kids.
3. Win brownie points! Organize canned goods at home and take extras to a food pantry.
4. Got talent? Share it!
5. Your old backpack needs a new friend…donate it!
6. Gather up outgrown, gently worn shoes and clothes for your local Salvation Army, Goodwill, church or synagogue.
7. Party leftovers? Local soup kitchen guests are going love them!
8. Neglected stuffies in your room? Little kids at shelters are aching to cuddle them.
9. Like a challenge? Your game board skills are in demand at the senior center.
10. Friend forgot their snack? Share yours!
11. Read aloud to little kids at the library – they’ll love you!
12. Dust off your old - but still good - books and give them to others.

Giving
1. It’s your birthday! Give a gift to someone in need.
2. Share your lemonade stand $$$ with your favorite worthy cause!
3. How about a toy drive for kids stuck in the hospital?
4. Get a haircut! And give your ponytail to Locks of Love.
5. Got old sports equipment? Bring it to your local Parks & Rec!
6. Calling all chefs! Bake cakes and donate the proceeds.
7. Feed your furry friends at the animal shelter…drop off a bag of food!
8. Time is precious…share a bit of yours to help others.
9. Kind words lift spirits…give a compliment and lift yours too.

Conserving
1. Compost your fruit and veggie scraps…and watch your garden BLOOM!
2. Help save a gazillion disposable water bottles…reusable bottles rule!
3. Save a tree! Use both sides of your notebook paper.
4. Reuse, recycle. Reuse, recycle. Reuse, recycle. Got it?!
5. Keep the earth cool…walk, bike or use public transportation.
6. Got energy? Pick up trash! Remember: wear gloves & work with an adult.
7. Your town doesn’t recycle? Yikes! Create a program now!
8. Nourish your neighborhood green spaces…grow a community garden.
9. Like clean air? Grab your friends and plant trees.
10. Drat those petroleum-based plastic bags! Use fabric bags instead - for everything!
11. Call your town councilman for more neighborhood trashcans and recycling bins.
12. Want to save energy while leaping tall buildings in a single bound? Turn off the boob tube and play outside.
13. Love surprises? Plant fall bulbs and flower seeds…and keep a weather eye for spring blossoms!
14. “Turn off the lights!” Make switch plate reminders for your whole house.
15. Save water and tons of $$$ - turn off the water when you brush teeth!
16. Keep sturdy takeout containers for future leftovers.
17. Transform colorful magazine pages, comics and more into artful projects and gift wrappers!
18. Learn how to donate/recycle old computer stuff & post instructions (with permission!) at your local electronics stores.
19. Breathe in nature…turn off the AC and open a window to the world.

Doing
1. Whip up your favorite yummy snack and present it to a soup kitchen!
2. Love history? Visit folks at the senior center and ask about the amazing things they’ve witnessed.
3. Want to change the world? Practice random acts of kindness.
4. Keep your brain sharp and body strong. Ask for healthy lunch options.
5. Say “thank you!” - it’s music to your parent's ears.
6. Seeking positive change? Ask your local government officials for help.
7. Lead by your good example.
8. New kid in the neighborhood? Play with them!
9. Volunteering? Invite your nearest and dearest along.
10. Have an older neighbor? Mow their lawn!
11. Need a cat or dog to snuggle? Visit the animal shelter.
12.  Help end poverty. Check out the UN Millennium Development Goals online.
13. Make soldiers smile…send letters & goodies!
14. There’s nothing like a warm hug…share one today.
15. Show gratitude and write thank you notes!
16. Get fit and have fun…start a neighborhood exercise group.
17. Eating healthy? Partner up to share knowledge, tips and encouragement.
18. Share a home cooked meal – and cheerful chat – with a homebound person.
19. Got a big idea? Launch it with a community event!
20. Friend on a mission? Help them!
21. Tummy grumbling at the grocery store? Buy a canned good for the food pantry box.
22. See somebody struggling with heavy bags or boxes? Lend a hand.
23. Active voters make our country great. Ensure adults in your life are registered!
24. Adorable pets await loving homes! Where? The animal shelter… tell your friends and family!
25. Brighten the world…smile often!


The Volunteer Center of Cedar Valley has numerous current volunteer opportunities available with 159 local non-profit agencies. To secure volunteer opportunities call the Volunteer Center of Cedar Valley at 272-2087 or email information@vccv.org. Volunteer opportunities may also be accessed at www.vccv.org.


Monday, June 12, 2017

Summer Service Ideas

Summer months bring long days, warm weather, school vacations - and great opportunities for kids to volunteer and families, camps, and youth groups to serve together. Here are some suggestions for a successful service experience:
1.     Start with things your kids love to do.
2.     Consider issues your kids care about. 
3.     Combine passions + issues for the biggest impact. 
4.     Encourage, support, and help your kids learn.

Ideas for summer involvement:
·       The Longest Day is all about love. Love for all those affected by Alzheimer’s disease. On the summer solstice, team up with the Alzheimer’s Association and select any activity you love — or an activity loved by those affected — to help end Alzheimer’s. Together, we will raise funds and awareness for care and support while advancing research toward the first survivor of Alzheimer’s. thelongestday.alz.org
·       Hunger hits especially hard when kids are out of school for the summer. The Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) ensures that low-income children continue to receive nutritious meals when school is not in session. This summer, USDA plans to serve more than 200 million free meals to children 18 years and under at approved SFSP sites. Promoting summer feeding sites in your community is one of the most important things you can do to ensure no child goes hungry this summer. You can find summer feeding sites and tools to help raise awareness as well as information about how to become a summer feeding site at the USDA’s website. Families in need can text ‘Food’ to 877-877, and receive a text back with the address and program information for sites closest to them, or information about how to find food resources in their area. Additional resources are available from No Kid Hungry and ideas for how youth can help from Generation No Kid Hungry.
·       Do something different this summer. Habitat for Humanity’s weeklong break trip program, Collegiate Challenge, isn’t just for spring break. This summer, bond with your new campus chapter leadership, take a church on a mission trip, or grab four friends to go serve and discover a different part of the country. http://www.habitat.org/youthprograms/collegiate-challenge
·       Our country is full of dazzling landscapes where students can play and learn—and there’s an opportunity for us to make this experience a reality for more and more of our youth. Every Kid in a Park gives fourth graders and their families a free one-year pass to any of our nation’s public lands and waters. Plan your trip at https://www.everykidinapark.gov. As you plan your trip, find out how you can volunteer in a national park.  https://www.nps.gov/getinvolved/volunteer.htm
·       This Summer, thank a Veteran and pledge the gift of time. The Department of Veterans Affairs is asking citizens across the country to join in serving our nation’s Veterans. Volunteers can find out the needs of your local VA facility by visiting http://www.va.gov/vasummerofservice
·       Help build awareness about the importance of teaching children to swim to help prevent drowning.  On June 22, waterparks, pools and other aquatic facilities around the globe will host local WLSL lessons in an attempt to break the Guinness World Record. Swimming is a life-saving skill for children and a vital tool to prevent drowning, the second leading cause of unintended, injury-related death for children ages 1-14.  http://www.worldslargestswimminglesson.org
·       Help protect wildlife by pledging to camp this summer! National Wildlife Federation’s Great American Campout is a summer-long celebration of camping as a way to connect with nature and wildlife. Take the pledge to camp — in your backyard, your neighborhood, your local parks, state parks, and national parks, cabins, RVs, treehouses… you name it! National Wildlife Federation’s Great American Campout is also part of Great Outdoors Month in June.  http://www.nwf.org/Great-American-Campout.aspx
·       Become a force for good while earning college credit this summer. The Advanced Leadership Academy (ALA) is a college-prep program for high school juniors and seniors who are serious about spearheading positive social change. Participants (known as “Project Managers”) select the cause they want to impact, develop their project-management and leadership skills, and then create their unique plan for change to put into action when they return home. Join the ALA July 6–11 at Loyola University Chicago. Learn more, sign up for one of HOBY’s webinars, and register here. Application Deadline: June 15.
·       National Summer Learning Day is a national advocacy day aimed at elevating the importance of keeping kids learning, safe and healthy every summer, ensuring they return to school in the fall ready to succeed in the year. Your participation sends a powerful message across the nation that summers matter and offers an opportunity to showcase how summers can make a life-changing difference in the lives of young people. http://www.summerlearning.org/summer-learning-day/
·       Use the Read & Act: Kids Making a Difference collection of inspiring children’s books from FirstBook paired with free downloadable discussion guides from YSA to help youth ages 6-12, understand how they can use their unique talents, interests and passions to spark action in their own communities. https://www.fbmarketplace.org/read-and-act
·       Make sure that your family and community are equipped to protect its littlest and most vulnerable citizens. Raise your voice, use your skills and together, we can help turn the tide and build a generation of prepared citizens. Lead Get Ready Get Safe Prep Rally activities and events to help build community awareness and educate children and families about simple things they can do to stay safe in emergencies. Get resources from Save the Children.
·       The Map of Play is a community generated guide to playspaces across the country. You can find playspaces near your location or add a new playspace and help other people find great places to play wherever they may be! Find or add a playspace today at http://mapofplay.kaboom.org. Get your community, youth group, or service organization involved with great group ideas in the activity kit. Then, take action to make playspaces in your community even better by planning a play day, organizing a clean-up, or building side projects. https://mapofplay.kaboom.org/take-action
·       Record and share the stories that are all around you. With the StoryCorps app and StoryCorps.me you can browse and listen to recordings from other users, add to the online library by sharing your own story, and activate your group, organization, or community around the power of storytelling. https://storycorps.me/
·       Nelson Mandela International Day is in recognition of Nelson Mandela’s birthday on July 18 and inspired by a call Nelson Mandela made for the next generation to take on the burden of leadership in addressing the world’s social injustices when he said that “it is in your hands now”.  It is more than a celebration of Madiba’s life and legacy. It is a global movement to honor his life’s work and act to change the world for the better. www.MandelaDay.com
·       National Night Out is an annual community-building campaign that promotes police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie to make our neighborhoods safer, more caring places to live. National Night Out enhances the relationship between neighbors and law enforcement while bringing back a true sense of community. Furthermore, it provides a great opportunity to bring police and neighbors together under positive circumstances.
·       Millions of neighbors take part in National Night Out across thousands of communities from all fifty states, U.S. territories, Canadian cities, and military bases worldwide on the first Tuesday in August (Texas celebrates on the first Tuesday in October). Neighborhoods host block parties, festivals, parades, cookouts and various other community events with safety demonstrations, seminars, youth events, visits from emergency personnel, exhibits and much, much more. https://natw.org/
·       International Youth Day is celebrated every year on August 12. International Youth Day 2017 is dedicated to celebrating young people’s contributions to conflict prevention and transformation as well as inclusion, social justice, and sustainable peace. The current generation of youth are the largest in history and young people often comprise the majority in countries marked by armed conflict or unrest, therefore considering the needs and aspirations of youth in matters of peace and security is a demographic imperative. Organize an event for International #YouthDay! https://www.un.org/development/desa/youth/international-youth-day-2017.html
·       Pledge to do a good deed for the 15th anniversary of 9/11. The goal of 9/11 Day is to keep alive the spirit of unity and compassion that arose in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, providing a positive, helpful way for people to annually remember and pay tribute to the 9/11 victims, and honor those that rose in service in response to the attacks. www.911day.org

While these opportunities aren’t locally based they give youth an opportunity to get involved on a large scale, the Volunteer Center of Cedar Valley has numerous current local volunteer opportunities available with 159 local non-profit agencies. To secure volunteer opportunities call the Volunteer Center of Cedar Valley at 272-2087 or email information@vccv.orgVolunteer opportunities may also be accessed at www.vccv.org.


Thanks to Youth Service America

Monday, June 5, 2017

Summer – A Great Time to Volunteer in the Cedar Valley

Summer brings to mind sunny days, baseball, picnics, and vacations. Why not consider engaging in your community during the summer months through volunteerism? Think about connecting with a local non-profit agency and giving of yourself. Here are some ways to define how you might go about perfecting the ideal volunteer opportunity:

Think about your interests. Consider looking for a group focused on issues you feel strongly about. This is a good place to begin your volunteer experience. If you’re not connected with such an organization, contact the Volunteer Center of Cedar Valley for assistance in making a match. There is no end to the creative avenues for volunteering, just as there is no end to the need for volunteers.

Consider your skills. If you enjoy being outside, spending time with children, or enjoy interacting with people you may want to look for volunteer work that incorporates these characteristics of your personality. Many positions require a volunteer who has previous experience with certain equipment, or possesses specific skills, such as an ability in athletics or communications. For one of those positions, you may wish to do something similar to what you do on the job during your workday, or something that you already enjoy as a hobby. This sort of volunteer opportunity allows you to get involved immediately without having to train for the opportunity.

Try something new.  Perhaps you would like to learn a new skill or gain experience in a new situation. Consider a volunteer opportunity where you'll learn something new. Volunteering to work on the newsletter for the local nonprofit will improve your writing and editing abilities-skills that may help you in your career. Or volunteering can simply offer a change from your daily routine. For example, if your full-time job is in an office, you may decide to take on a more active volunteer assignment such as gardening or building a playground. Many nonprofits look for people who are willing to learn and embrace new activities.

Combine goals. Perhaps your personal goal is to lose weight. Consider volunteering in a setting where you will be physically active. If you’re interested in learning about plants, consider volunteering for a local arboretum.

Don't over-commit. Make sure the volunteer hours you want to give fit into your life. You don’t want to exhaust yourself, frustrate your family, shortchange the organization you're trying to help, or neglect your job. Do you want a long-term assignment or a one-time opportunity? If you are unsure about your availability or want to see how the work suits you, find out if the organization will allow you to start volunteering on a limited basis until you get the feel of things.

Volunteer virtually. Virtual volunteering can also be a way for you to give time if you simply enjoy computers and want to employ your computer skills in your volunteer work.

Non-profits have specific needs. Many non-profits have specific qualifications that may need to be met. The volunteer opportunity may require a driver’s license, use of your personal vehicle, insurance, specific training, a background check, or previous experience.

Volunteer as a Family. Think about looking for a volunteer opportunity appropriate for parents and children to do together, or for a husband and wife to take on as a team. When a family volunteers together the experience can build relationships and teach children the value of volunteering their time.

Volunteer as a Business. Think about looking for a volunteer opportunity appropriate for your business to take on as a group. Employee volunteers build a sense of camaraderie and cooperation. It can also facilitate employee teamwork. The best service opportunities are collaborative – working side-by-side with others in the community. Humanitarian service opportunities should assist the poor and those in need of a helping hand. Community service opportunities should enhance the quality of life in the community. Projects should not directly involve volunteers in fundraising, have a political focus, or be for-profit oriented.

Think outside the box. Volunteering takes many forms. People often think of hospitals, schools, or churches. Keep an open mind. Consider day care centers, public schools, halfway houses, community theaters, drug rehabilitation centers, retirement centers, homes for the elderly, meals on wheels, soup kitchens or food pantries, museums, art galleries, youth organizations, sports teams, after-school programs, shelters for battered women and children, historical societies, and parks.

Volunteer! Bring your sense of humor and your willingness to help to your volunteer service. Volunteering is in itself an invaluable gift but what you get back will be immeasurable!

The Volunteer Center of Cedar Valley has numerous current volunteer opportunities available with 159 local non-profit agencies. To secure volunteer opportunities call the Volunteer Center of Cedar Valley at 272-2087 or email information@vccv.org. Volunteer opportunities may also be accessed at www.vccv.org.