From Chicken Soup for the Volunteer's Soul

Top Ten List of Things a Volunteer Should Know

10. List your dreams and talents. Where do you excel? What have you always dreamed of doing? What do you really enjoy or would like to try? Is there a way to prepare, learn or try it as a volunteer?

9. Pick your duration. One size doesn’t fit all, just like volunteer opportunities. I’ve found that volunteer projects come in three sizes: one-time, short-term, and “whad’ya doing for the rest of your life?”

8. Make a commitment. Sometimes a volunteer project is an acquired taste. Give yourself a chance to have good days, bad days and in-between days. If after three months you see no redeeming value, then at least you can feel you gave it a fair chance.

7. Watch and learn. Seasoned volunteers can teach you the “ropes” so to speak. Observe them and follow their lead. Have confidence in the knowledge that you are capable and trainable. Balance that confidence with a dose of humility, also.

6. Ability, need and desire. You must have the ability to do the service, there must be a need for the service, and you must have the desire to be of service.

5. Unpaid doesn’t mean unprofessional. “Anything worth doing is worth doing well.” All that we do, we need to do with our most sincere effort. Anything less is a disservice to those we are helping and ultimately to ourselves.

4. Balance is key. Priorities add balance. Charity begins at home—keep the priorities straight. Balance out family, work and volunteering. If you become overwhelmed, stress will set in and you won’t enjoy doing anything.

3. Stand back and admire. Sometimes people forget to say “thank you,” so you will need to reward yourself. Be proud of your accomplishments—take the time to smell the roses, hear the raindrops on the pane, feel the snow on your nose, taste the cool clear water.

2. Find a home or make a change. Are you stale or still fresh? Are you learning, enthusiastic or approaching burnout? Check yourself periodically and act upon your honest answers.

1. Have fun! Life has enough drudgery; volunteering shouldn’t be one of them. Giving of yourself should be uplifting and joyful. We are at our best when we learn, grow, play and serve each other with love and respect.

Donald Patrick Dunn

“Hello, I’m Matilda, a volunteer librarian. Our featured

book of the millenium is ‘From Here to Eternity.’”

Reprinted by permission of Charles Markman.

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