I blogged a few weeks ago about how important it is to give back to a community, and with students in High School requiring a minimum of forty volunteer hours to graduate, know that many wait until their final year to grab the credit while others get “hooked on volunteering” from their grade nine year.
Students please be aware that mockery is a form of bullying. It shouldn’t need to be said but indeed some students are so disturbed by what they see when they go to volunteer, they later adopt a bravado and can be heard joking about the very people who only a few hours earlier they were meant to be helping! Empathy is aparently not as natural an emotion as we would like to believe. In fact volunteering itself becomes a skill, and each station or space where one offers to be of service will have its own guidelines or rules for new volunteers to first apply, then with commitment and practiced observation skills, share their own techniques and what might further the organization.
It is important though to think carefully before signing on to volunteer, even if only to gain those needed High School credits. Are you a behind the scenes or front line person? have you an actual interest in learning more about the particular situation? Can you do the work as it is described?
Agencies in the service industry might also appreciate office help and provide a solid reference for the needed first job. When the sign goes up to volunteer consider the following:
- have I patience?
- will I be comfortable in an unusual setting (as in some place of worship, or community hall where one might not regularly attend)?
- is there a language requirement?
- is there any minimum amount of hours for the training which could require more than the school demands?
- am I comfortable in a crowd?
- is it a hands on position ( hospital help, working with children or adults…)?
- is it one to one after the training or will I always be part of a team?
- will I have a chance to learn something new? ( always one is learning-here perhaps a new skill)
- if athletic could I share these skills and help others?
- if academic could I share these skills and help others?
- have I a particular interest in any field where volunteers will be welcomed (could range from gardening, to robotics, or museum work, or learning a trade and shadowing a skilled worker, apprentice style, while helping as required)
- have I truly considered trying something new and where my skills might be most useful?
Having worked with volunteers who ranged from High School age to seniors I have learned some come with high anticipation to simply “begin” and others shyly wait at a door pondering the fit. Both are extremely useful once shown the ropes and allowed to choose where and how they feel they may contribute most.
Please do take it seriously and recognize that whichever place you decide to help with your time, energy, and enthusiasm will begin to count on you- and be respectful as if it were a paying position. Some organizations are only able to do the work they provide due to the help of caring volunteers. And don’t be frightened to try something “unusual” as you may learn something about yourself in the process.
2015-2016- a year to explore!