Community service, volunteerism, acts of service

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by hearts and roses, Apr 16, 2009.

  1. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    So, if any of you are involved in community service or volunteering, or participate in acts of service.....what do you do? I would love to hear what you're involved in - not only for ideas but also just to know.

    Part of this comes from the fact that I recently went back to [a] church. I was raised Catholic and left that church for quite some time. I finally, after years of searching, have found a church I REALLY enjoy attending. And I'm LISTENING. And I've been volunteering. And I am loving this.

    My life has been in a flux for some time now; a lot of changes as my daughters grow and become more independent and I found myself sort of worrying and twiddling my thumbs a bit. H and I have hit a wall in recent months and even with counseling, things are still very shaky at best.

    I'm starting to find out some things about myself and one of them is doing for others. And I also need change - to shake things up.

    Please share. I really need to hear that I'm not alone.
  2. tiredmommy

    tiredmommy Site Moderator

    Volunteering literally kept me sane through Duckie's youngest years... it gave me a sense of stepping outside myself and being part of something bigger.

    I've volunteered at my:

    local library (shelving and assisting with children's activities)

    church (Sunday school teacher, kitchen committee, altar guild, rummage sale and special projects)

    school (in the classroom assisting students or other tasks, making copies, cut-outs or putting up student projects, filing books in the library and creating special displays, and making myself available as an experienced parent in the multiage program, field trip chaperon),

    team mom for cheer leading (helping coach keep order, pass communications on the parents, help with uniform problems, give out hugs and band-aids as necessary)

    assistant Brownie troop leader (assist the leader, chief nut sale mom, assistant cookie mom, pass on info to parents and occasionally plan/run a meeting)

    I've actually began to back-off some because I was often putting in more than 40+ hours a week and I need to make sure I have time to take care of me.
  3. everywoman

    everywoman Active Member

    I have coached various sports over the years.
    I am also extremely active in local govt.
    For years I did the vacation bible school, children's church, youth group thing.
    I am a member of a local education sorority.
    There are lots of local groups---Rotary, Lions, etc. to get involved with.
    I have looked into getting active in the local theater group.
    I've started several 501c groups---one was a local group that supported the performing and visual arts.
  4. Andy

    Andy Active Member

    Being part of a team and helping is great. It is where I meet my friends. My list includes:

    The National organization of Women of Today (formally Jaycee Women) - I have held many officer positions on local, district, and state levels including chairing Santa's Secret Shop on the local level. I chaired many projects. My state position was Focus on Women with the theme of "Slow Down, Relax, and Enjoy". It focused on using Time Management skills to stay as stress free as possible.

    Girl Scouts - Troop Leader - Service Unit Chair - Director of a 3 Day G.S. Day Camp - Service Unit Cookie chair

    Church - Sunday School teacher and superintendent (stepping down this year after 10 years) - Board of Christian Education - director of Vacation Bible School - on a serving committee to serve church events such as funerals.

    School - PTL - help with classes - chaperone field trips

    Years ago I was in hand-bells and choir at a previous church (pre-marriage and mother years).

    Volunteering gives you a chance for personal growth in areas not available through work and home. It builds your self esteem and you meet new friends with similar interests.
  5. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    You can get some surprising skills when volunteering, ones you never realised you were getting. I honed my writing and publishing skills as a volunteer; I got some vlauable free education as an editor which I've since used professionally. I did a course as a telephone counsellor and spent some years taking calls.

    I've volunteered at the local school teaching chess; I did it originally when difficult child 3 was a student there and I needed to do something that he could do, something to show other kids that he wasn't just some dumb weird kid. I also wanted to show the school that I would put something back, not just take all the time. I also wanted to teach the kids that using the brain was a good thing, it wasn't just a nerd thing and jocks can be smart too, if they choose to be.
    After difficult child 3 left that school I still kept the class going even though I had no help form any staff (other than allowing me to continue, and granting me space). They were very happy for me to do it and supported me verbally, they even covered the cost of a couple of book awards at the end of each year. Most years.

    We're now moving away from this because the rules have changed and difficult child 3 is no longer permitted to come along and help (which was providing osme useful social interaction for him as well as showing the local kids that difficult child 3 is OK).

    So volunteering is now moving into a new phase...

  6. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    Sometimes alone and sometimes with difficult child: Make a basket of fruit and flowers for someone in your neighborhood, plant seeds in small pots for elderly in assisted living, help carry in elderly or disabled people's groceries, help people in your neighborhood with errands, yardwork, etc, give to the local food bank, advocate for other families that need help with a difficult child. Send cards or small gifts to our military troops. Become a CASA volunteer (ok- I didn't actually do this). Be a mentor at your state Department of Juvenile Justice (I haven't done this either). Clean up a park or lake. Foster an animal when the rescue or humane socities get over-filled. Tutor a difficult child from your child's school (I haven't done this either.)
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2009
  7. 1905

    1905 Well-Known Member

    I teach art to cancer patients as a volunteer. I teach art to gifted and talented students on Saturdays, so the things I do with my Sat. kids, I do with my "ladies" at a cancer support community clubhouse. I've taken some cool workshops on puppetmaking recently, so that's what we're doing this week. I get so much out of it. It's fun.
  8. goldenguru

    goldenguru Active Member

    My favorite volunteer job was a 'peer counselor' at a local crisis pregnancy center. We spent 40 hours getting 'crisis counseling' training. I met with women who needed PG tests, were considering abortion/adoption/parenting. We also had a parenting program whereby we 'mentored' women who had babies, young children. I did it for 8 years.

    The most significant thing it did for me personally was to nudge me to get my degree so that I could do professionally what I loved doing on a volunteer basis. It confirmed in my own mind what I wanted to do when I grew up. ;)

    I am a strong believer in mentoring. It amazes me how few people have good support systems. You have much to offer Jog! Share it with others!!
  9. Wiped Out

    Wiped Out Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Congrats to all of you who are volunteering. In recent years I have slacked off in my volunteering and would love to start again. I hate to wait until difficult child is much older but think I may have to. The only thing I'm doing right now is Leader of Prayer at church which doesn't involve a time commitment as I would be at church anyways.

    When I was very young (age 12) I started volunteering for head start when it was a summer program. At about 13 I started volunteering for Project Motivation, which was a program for helping Hmong children. As soon as I was old enough I was a candy striper and then started teaching Sunday School which I did for several years (until difficult child was a toddler).

    I think so many of our children today need mentors as gg said. They would love to have a big brother or sister. My cousin did this for years and loved every moment of it.
  10. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    Let's see...

    I'm on the board of directors for my local political riding association. Involved in communications, community outreach, campaigns and membership drives.

    I used to participate in:
    A mentoring program for high school girls, who were each paired with a business woman in a career field that interested them. Focus was on leadership.

    A similar mentoring program for girls at risk. Again, they were each paired with a business woman in a career field that interested them. In this program the focus was more on basic job skills.

    For a professional association relating to my field, was a judge in their annual skills competition for years.
  11. Abbey

    Abbey Spork Queen

    I volunteer at a shelter called Father Carrs. I've never seen such a lovely place and staff. They have a main facility with a restaurant, hobby room, etc., then bought the Motel 6 next door for clients. They never ask any questions...if someone comes in, you've got a place to stay, listening ears and food to eat.

    I also donate my DJ services many times a year to various places. Last year was big with Nellis AFB in Vegas. Soldiers would come home for a 2 week leave and hold big parties. It is the smallest thing I could do when I watch these young people leave their families in light of war. Getting on base was a chore, though. Big van...lots of big black boxes. Everything had to be inspected. It took forever.

    I wish I was rich and could just be a full-time volunteer. It's very rewarding.

  12. skeeter

    skeeter New Member

    When the kids were little and I was a stay at home mom, I volunteered at our local Zoo (did lab work in the Center for Reproduction of Endangered Wildlife) and was in their school classes at least once a week, if not more.

    husband and I (husband moreso since he's retired) do a lot of volunteering with our local police and courts. We are members of Citizens on Patrol and Problem Oriented Policing, husband is also a member of Court Watch (he and his volunteer partner were just on the news - his partner tackled a convicted prisoner that tried to escape the court room). We also do work with our Quality of Life group.

    We play music a lot on a volunteer basis, at church, at local functions and venues, and at festivals. Sometimes this will lead to paying jobs, too.

    husband does quite a few websites, including our church's and our community portal, on a volunteer basis.

    When I do retire, I'd love to get back to volunteering in schools - especially those that don't have parents that do so.
  13. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    Wow, thank you so much everyone for sharing - it's been very inspiring.

    When my girls were little/younger, I did a lot of volunteer work with the schools and also Girl Scouts (leader, co-leader and sponsor). I've also done some volunteer work for a women's shelter in Hartford. I've also worked with Planned Parenthood and other local women's groups. But that's really it.

    I feel like my life has been centered around raising my girls, in particular so much time has been expended on difficult child and helping her become an adult. Anyway, it left little time for me to explore what I'd really like to do with myself outside of work. My job has been an ends to a means. I am good at what I do, but I don't derive a lot of fullfillment and pleasure from it anymore - it's become rote.

    What I really enjoy is working with people, helping them find themselves or helping them find the resources they need to help themselves, that sort of thing. I would love to work with women who are ready to help themselves coming out of a marriage or some other transition (such as my own). I would also love to help teen/young mothers learn about how to care for their newborns. I would love to *possibly* get into some level of social work. I know enough and have experienced enough to know that not only can I handle it, but I would feel very good working in any capacity that would be helpful. I've spoken about this several times over the years with my counselor and the two that I've had have been very supportive of this for me. I have some credits that would transfer well into a Human Services program, but I also think that I should focus my volunteering in that area before making a comittment.

    You all have done or do such amazing things - some I would never have thought of! It is wonderful! So, Skeeter, the thing that your H does with his court watch partner, is it sort of like being a bouncer?? Hahaha. That is so cool. Thanks everyone~
  14. skeeter

    skeeter New Member

    Court Watch "officially" are groups of citizens that follow people convicted of crimes in our neighborhood, or that live in our neighborhood and commit crimes. Often at sentencing, especially when community control is being considered - husband and the others are consulted as to what effect the person has in the community. I was off work on Monday and went with them to a case where someone had broken into several homes a few streets over. Besides paying restitution, his community control condition was that since he doesn't live in our neighborhood - he is not to BE in our neighborhood. If he's caught in it, he will serve 2 years.

    I tease husband and his "partner" about being Bounty Hunters (husband has long hair - but dark - but I've threatened to hook beads and feathers to his glasses aka Dog), but this was a strange one. They weren't even in the court for this guy - there's was next. The guy thought he was going to get community control, but he had led police on a high speed chase and crashed his car into a building. He was sentenced to 5 years. When the deputy started to cuff him - he took off. husband's "partner is 6'2", 240 (and 62 years old) and always wears denim overalls. He jumped up, jumped over husband, and tackled the guy. The other deputy in the courtroom at the time is about 7 months pregnant, so she really couldn't have done anything - but A. says he didn't think, he just acted.

    I keep teasing him asking when Mike Brown (owner of the Bengals - football team) is going to offer him a contract!!!
  15. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    skeeter, that is such a cool 'job'. I wonder if they have those in our area.