Popping your volunteer bubble

ImageI want to talk a little about volunteering. I went to the volunteer fair in MUSC Atrium at the beginning of the semester with the intention of compiling an organized list of how to get involved in the volunteer world, so that I could share it with you wonderful blog readers. As it turns out, my plan did not go as intended, but it wasn’t for a lack of trying.

When I stepped down the first isle to start at the nearest booth, I was suddenly very overwhelmed. The initial confidence I’d had in my ability to scout out every possible volunteer opportunity diminished as soon as I became aware of the vast quantity of options. Nevertheless, I forced myself to go on, stopping at nearly every booth, and doing my best to keep an open mind. The problem was, my mind was filling up very quickly, and soon it was overflowing with information that I couldn’t keep in. And my mind wasn’t the only thing overflowing; the number of pamphlets in my arms were becoming too much too carry.

By the end, I was stressed and exhausted, and I had a pile of papers to sort out. I never thought the experience would have been so difficult, but somehow it was. This got me thinking. I’ve spent a lot of time in my recent years searching for new ways to get involved, and smothering myself in as many experiences as possible, but why? The answer is pretty simple: I like volunteering. It’s a way to meet new people, it’s fun, it’s fulfilling, it keeps me busy, makes me feel good about myself, and usually involves an activity that I enjoy. But if this is the case, why do I sometimes put my passions aside when looking for a new position?

I think this is a pretty common practice for people looking to get involved. It’s too easy to look at a long list of opportunities, and then choose to participate in a bunch of them without much thought. Of course, I strongly encourage trying new things, but if you’re having trouble deciding, the choice can be made easier by considering the things you love. For example, if you love horses, The Equestrian Association for the Disabled, located in Mount Hope, is only a short drive away and would offer the chance to volunteer with the animals you love. If you’re interested in working with the Hamilton Police or crisis intervention, the Victim Services branch of the Hamilton Police has volunteers that provide emotional support for victims of crime and trauma. If your passions are in civic engagement, the Hamilton Civic League is always accepting volunteers to promote informed citizenship and electoral participation. There are hundreds more opportunities, doing things such as working with children/youth, working with seniors, working outdoors, helping an at-risk population, improving environmental sustainability, tutoring, assisting people with disabilities…the list goes on. The point is: there are countless ways to get involved, and before getting too overwhelmed, think about your interests and where you might find your niche. And as you begin making plans for next semester, feel free to check out the Student Success Centre and talk to one of your Volunteer Resource Peers for a little guidance.

Happy Volunteering!