February 24, 2009
Your mission, if you choose to accept it...
My work with The Women's Wilderness Institute has really made me take a deeper look at volunteering. Prior to TWWI, I tried a few different volunteer opportunities because I wanted to give back to the community but I didn't feel the connection. Not to say these organizations were lacking in strong missions or value to community, but I didn't have the passion for the cause.
I finally found the passion and drive to volunteer with women and girls outdoor education. I never lose interest in the mission and that fuels me, even when I don't think I have enough energy for a day job, social life and volunteer work.
Excited to have found something so inspirational made me wonder how are other people volunteering or are they? I looked at my friends and people in the community to see how many are currently volunteering their time and skills, I am proud to say it's about 40%. In addition about 50% of those who don't volunteer time donate money. I asked a few people what the main reason was for not volunteering and for many it was the lack of passion. They just hadn't found an organization that was a match.
So for those of you who don't volunteer, who want new opportunities for volunteer work, or maybe want to take a vacation and save some money, read on.
For Outdoorsy types one great tool is Service Leader. This website links to various parks and wilderness areas that need assistance.
If you're in Colorado there is also Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado. While visiting their website you can choose from a range of activities for individuals, groups, and families as well as adventure level volunteer activities.
If you're a climber you may like to plan or participate in an Adopt-a-Crag event. These events focus on cleaning and preserving our climbing areas as well as the trails leading to prime climbing spots.
So now maybe you're saying, but what about me Cupcake? I am not an outdoorsy person, I have to wear sunscreen when I sit near a window! Well the sky is the limit. The question I always ask people when they wonder where they should volunteer is simple, "When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?" A veterinarian, a teacher, or maybe an artist?" The go visit Volunteermatch.org and type in your location and keywords such as Animals, Kids, or Art and you will find all kinds of unique ways to give back.
For my fellow crafty types check out Sewing Charity. There is a comprehensive directory of charities that can use your hand crafted donations to support all types of organizations through out the globe.
Now I know you're wondering, what about those vacations you mentioned? If you don't need five star accomodations and don't mind getting your hands dirty consider a volunteer vacation. Depending on the type of vacation you may be building trails or teaching English. For far less than you would normally spend on vacation you can pair up with an orgnaization and volunteer while still having time to relax Resources include the American Hiking Society and Global Volunteers. I have not tested either of these personally but have read good reviews.
There are many other opportunities out there, these are merely a few resources to get you going. So get out there and make a difference!