How To Find The Right Volunteer Work For You

If you're looking for volunteer work and don't know where to begin, just check out your local hospitals, nursing homes, non-profits, institutions, associations, social services organizations.

If you're looking for volunteer work and don't know where to begin, just check out your local hospitals, nursing homes, non-profits, library institutions, associations, and social services organizations. These places offer some of the best volunteer work options for a teen or adult.

Volunteer opportunities abound, and your job is to find the right one for you.

Before you step out your front door to find the right volunteer work for you, have a heart-to-heart talk with yourself to ask yourself the following questions:

- How much time would you like to give?

- What hours and days of the week are optimal for you?

- Are you willing to travel a distance, or do you prefer to be close to home?

- Do you enjoy working with people, or would you prefer to be behind the scenes?

- Are you creatively oriented, or do you think of yourself as a more cut-and-dry, practical kind of person?

- What are your top qualities?

- What are your most wonderful talents and skills?

The key is to match your availability and talents with the best volunteer job possible.

In order to truly give to others, you must take an inventory of what it is you have to give. Perhaps you have a background in health care and want to work in this area. Maybe you are an accountant and could help the elderly with their taxes. Maybe you always wanted to start up a non-profit daycare center. While you might be fairly good in a wide variety of arenas, it is best if you focus on your most obvious gifts.

It is important not to pressure yourself to do something that is not meant for you. While some people are comfortable working in nursing homes, others are not.

Once you have taken an inventory of what it is you do best, find out in the yellow pages or at your local library if there is a volunteer resource center, volunteer program, or volunteer organization located near you. The staff at these organizations are trained to help you find the perfect fit in volunteering your time and love.

You might also contact a nearby organization to which you are particularly inclined to contribute. Have you always wanted to volunteer at a hospital, library, or a specific non-profit organization? Do you love sports? Have you considered helping out the local community center? Perhaps you could be an assistant coach to a kids' volleyball team.

While many organizations have in-house volunteer programs, many do not. Do not assume that an organization without a volunteer program is not in dire need of volunteers. In fact, institutions without volunteer programs are often too understaffed to set up such a program.

If you feel drawn to volunteering at a certain facility, ask if you can. It is as simple as that.

You will sometimes find that the first place you volunteer is not the place for you. If the atmosphere does not feel right, or if you do not feel like your skills are really being used, you might wish to try again.

Always be as respectful in a volunteer position as you would in a paid position. If you plan to leave an internship, for instance, give notice just as you would at a paid job.

To be totally creative in seeking the volunteer work that is right for you. Ask your local librarian for a book of national associations. Browse through the book and pick out associations that interest you. Find out if these associations have local branches. Even if they do not, you might be inspired to find volunteer work in a related field.

The Red Cross and United Way usually have local chapters, and also can be a great resource for still other volunteer opportunities. Oprah Winfrey and her Angel Network have helped turn the nation's attention to the importance of being of service to others, and volunteerism is hopefully on the up and up. But do not assume that there are enough people out there without you to fill all the volunteer jobs available.

Whether you would like to volunteer at a zoo, an animal shelter, a library, or simply help your blind neighbor to shop for food, know that your time and energy is infinitely valuable in a world of need.

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