The month of April is full of holidays… and this week is no exception. Happy National Volunteer Week!
In 1974, President Nixon recognized the week as a way of recognizing volunteers and their many hours of community service. The week also raises awareness about volunteer opportunities for people interested in lending a hand to their communities.
If you would have asked me a year ago to celebrate National Volunteer Week, I would have been a little hesitant. It’s not that I don’t like volunteering; it’s just that as a student I have a lot of questions about it, like:
What organizations can I help? Are they close to campus? Will this work out with my schedule?
As long as you know when you’re available and what you’re good at, there is no shortage of volunteer opportunities to fit any type of person or schedule.
The only problem that remains is HOW to pick a volunteer opportunity. Maybe you’re torn between a few options, or aren’t sure if something will be the best fit. I recommend trying a “test-run,” or a one-time event, to see if you have found the most compatible volunteer organization for you before making any sort of commitment.
Finding places to try volunteering at can be a little difficult, especially for students who aren’t from a specific area, or who have not volunteered before. I did a little bit of the legwork for you and came up with a list of five ways you can get involved with little-to-no-stress on your part.
- Check out Reeve Union’s website. Reeve Union makes it super easy to volunteer. Using their website, you can browse through volunteer opportunities by category or by the length of the volunteering (short or long term options are available). I’ve pulled some of the more popular opportunities and listed them at the end of the blog for your convenience.
- Join a campus organization. Some clubs or organizations actually require service projects or volunteer hours as a part of membership. But these groups don’t leave you out on a limb; they offer opportunities to volunteer as a one-time commitment with a group of people you know. It’s also nice because they find the volunteer opportunity for you!
- Execute the “grab-bag” approach. My friends, when trying to complete a service project, tossed in several volunteer ideas they liked into a hat and then they picked one to do. Simple and efficient.
- Browse volunteering websites. Looking online is often the most convenient if you find yourself a little crunched for time. Volunteermatch.org is a good tool for looking for options anywhere in the state and the Volunteer Center of East Central Wisconsin gives you localized events.
- Attend Hands On Oshkosh. You can sign up for this event and the coordinators place you with an organization that needs your help. It takes place during one morning AND you get a free t-shirt out of it. I went this last Saturday and took pictures for the “Above the Influence Campaign.” Yes, volunteering is that easy.
Volunteering doesn’t need to be backbreaking or a scary thing. With friends, it can be a lot of fun and an awesome way to give back to the community (and give someone else a day off).
It’s also important to remember that just about anything can be turned into a volunteer activity. There are a lot of people out there who could use your help: whether it be helping to create a website or cutting your neighbor’s grass – nothing is too big, small or “out there” to be considered a volunteer activity.
If you’re like a lot of students, you could probably use some clear direction to make the process as painless as possible. Here are a few specific volunteer opportunities that I know of around the Oshkosh area. If you’ve done any others, or know of more, please let me know so we can help future volunteers find something that matches their personalities.
- Oshkosh Area Humane Society: www.oahs.org
- Oshkosh Family Inc/Meals on Wheels: www.oshkoshfamily.org/meals_on_wheels.htm
- Community Blood Center: http://www.communityblood.org/
- Habitat for Humanity Oshkosh: www.habitatoshkosh.org
- The Grand Opera House: www.grandoperahouse.org
- Big Brothers Big Sisters of Oshkosh: www.bigbros.oshkosh.net