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Old 11-21-2009, 12:15 PM   #21
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I volunteer at my kids' school library 2-3 hours per week. The children are a pleasure to see & help, and I enjoy the organization/structure of the environment and also seeing so many of the books I loved as a child. My hours at the library are some of the best hours of my week.

The downside is that the work never stops (the books keep coming, kind of like the mail, I guess?) and when I leave I'm always leaving a cart of books for the next volunteer (even though I already filed a cart or two...). So even though I accomplish a LOT during my stint, there's always things left undone. I don't know what the librarians would do if they didn't have the help of the volunteers.

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Old 11-21-2009, 12:50 PM   #22
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I do volunteer work for the local School Scrabble program. I used to play in adult Scrabble tournaments in the late 1990s but I did not like how they were run so my current Scrabble fixes are playing against a friend of mine (for the last 21 years) and being a guru to dozens of middle-school kids (grades 5-8) from 4 area schools.

I also run tournaments these 4 schools have banded together to play in. The teacher/coaches from these 4 schools all get along very well and everyone has a good time playing in these tournaments. I like helping out and encouraging kids partake in a brainy activity, something I did when I was their age 35 years ago.

I will be running a tourney after Thanksgiving and we have our local cable news station coming so they can do a segment as part of the newswoman's "Cool at School" series. I look forward to getting on TV.

Another area I volunteer with is helping a square dance caller I know run a square dance class at a local college. Not as glamorous as the Scrabble stuff, but I am only a second fiddle at this one.

I began doing both of these things when I switched from full-time work to part-time work several years ago. Since I fully retired last year, I have been able to more easily schedule these activities without scheduling conflicts (but once in a while they conflict anyway).
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Old 11-21-2009, 01:18 PM   #23
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Some of you guys have had some really interesting volunteer positions. You have given me some great ideas that I had never thought even existed. I guess the key is to find something that you enjoy as that is what will keep you coming back.

I am not a great animal lover but I have thought of fostering a dog. It would have to be a small one as I couldn't allow it to live outside (hate the thought of a poor dog in the rain and cold). However, my greatest concern is what if you have a foster dog and no-one adopts it. Do they put it down as I know I couldn't allow that but we are not in the position to have a forever dog.
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Old 11-21-2009, 02:19 PM   #24
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Some of you guys have had some really interesting volunteer positions. You have given me some great ideas that I had never thought even existed. I guess the key is to find something that you enjoy as that is what will keep you coming back.

I am not a great animal lover but I have thought of fostering a dog. It would have to be a small one as I couldn't allow it to live outside (hate the thought of a poor dog in the rain and cold). However, my greatest concern is what if you have a foster dog and no-one adopts it. Do they put it down as I know I couldn't allow that but we are not in the position to have a forever dog.
You hit the nail on the head! I spent most of my career working with non-profit organizations and can assure you that nearly every group can use more volunteers. Many post their volunteer needs on their websites, in many communities there might be a central place like Volunteer Connect that lists volunteer opportunities.

Some of my past volunteer gigs have included:
-- usher at local community theater
-- "crowd control" volunteer at PGA Open
-- community greeter (welcoming visitors at the airport and answering questions) during Super Bowl week
-- float builder and costumed character in annual Thanksgiving parade
-- library worker at local school library
-- food packer at food bank
-- classroom volunteer teaching financial literacy to students
-- board member service for numerous non-profits

As for fostering shelter animals, if you volunteer for a no-kill shelter you will not have to face the possibility of the animal in your care being destroyed. My DD is a volunteer dog walker for a local shelter in her community. Very much appreciated as the animals need the exercise and she's actually gotten several of her "charges" adopted after people have seen her walking them in the park.
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Old 11-21-2009, 02:49 PM   #25
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I'd really like to find a way to volunteer for a local animal organization, but I know I can't handle a position where I'm exposed to a lot of heartbreak. Anyone have any suggestions for this?

You might check in your area for a 'no kill' animal rescue group. They keep the animals until a permanent placement is found. There are all sorts of volunteer opportunities with them.

One that might involve little/no heartbreak involves taking a select group of animals to a specific site (around here it's often one of the large pet stores) on a weekend and display the caged animals and hopefully find forever homes for them.

omni
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Old 11-21-2009, 04:30 PM   #26
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I volunteer one day a month(4 hours) dog walking for the humane society. One of my co-workers works with me as I am her helper.. She got me involved when I adopted my pug a couple of years ago. I still work full time but have a very flexible schedule.
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Old 11-21-2009, 05:42 PM   #27
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I'm not yet retired, but my folks are - they volunteer on a tourist railroad.
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Old 11-21-2009, 08:33 PM   #28
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When I volunteer I'm going to get with a group that takes animals to hospitals, because I realize what a total thrill it was when two ladies brought around 2 Shelties when my mother was in the hospital last summer. You would think mom, son and I had never seen dogs before we carried on so. Of course, only animal lovers would like this sort of visit, and we surely did. After a long, lengthy hospital stay you get mighty hungry for nature and animals I think. (Much to my surprise the gals told me some people tell them they aren't interested in seeing the dogs.)
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Old 11-22-2009, 10:35 AM   #29
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Define "heartbreak." If you mean look at these animals who have no home, how heartbreaking. I'd respond, look at these animals who have a safe place to stay while the shelter finds them a home.

But be aware that volunteering at an animal shelter is work, without you the full time paid employees would have to do the work they've assigned to you.

-- Rita
When I say heartbreak, in this case I mean being around animals that have to be euthanised because of overcrowding, or animals that have been badly abused. There are wonderful people who handle these situations with grace; I know I wouldn't be one of them.

I'm not even limiting myself to working at a shelter - I've considered volunteering at a local animal sanctuary (a small farm with large animals that have been rescued). I might end up seeing if I can do something like maintain a website for an organization like this.
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Old 11-22-2009, 10:36 AM   #30
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You might check in your area for a 'no kill' animal rescue group. They keep the animals until a permanent placement is found. There are all sorts of volunteer opportunities with them.

One that might involve little/no heartbreak involves taking a select group of animals to a specific site (around here it's often one of the large pet stores) on a weekend and display the caged animals and hopefully find forever homes for them.

omni
This is a great idea for me - Thanks!
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Old 11-22-2009, 11:09 AM   #31
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For those that do or have volunteered I would be interested in hearing what you do volunteer wise and what you enjoy or don't like about your particular opportunity.

...The second is as a food packer at the Food Bank (Freebird think you do something similar?).
Yes, I go once a month to help sort food and pack food units. It is a great w*rkout and there is zero politics or meetings involved.
It is good brainless w*rk and oh so rewarding.

I drove 1.5 years for the DAV Transportation Network when I first FIREd. It was a wonderful activity. Unfortunately, some intense cross-fire between some personalities (not me involved) took the fun out of it. It reminded me too much of w*rk.
Add to that some questionable Go/NoGo practices in extreme winter weather for which my safety advice went unheeded.
So I discontinued.
I have convinced myself that I need to revisit doing that after the winter is over. I miss the guys (disabled vets) a lot. This is a service I can easily do, just drive a van and get folks home safe.
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Old 11-23-2009, 12:11 AM   #32
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One of the best volunteer gigs my husband has had was as a nursing home ombudsman. He received a letter from AARP telling him a local ombudsman was needed (when we lived in OH). The program wasn't run by AARP but somehow they were involved in the recruiting.

He went through training and became the ombudsman for our local county home. It was a great place where the residents were happy and well-cared for so he didn't hear many complaints. He was supposed to visit at least once per month but he visited once a week. Both the staff and the residents loved him.

The rest of his week was spent volunteering with the Red Cross.
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Old 11-23-2009, 05:03 AM   #33
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Maybe this doesn't really fit in the volunteering thread, but one thing I have done almost every year for the past 7 or 8 is playing Santa for the kids at my parents' Church. Only happens once a year, only takes a couple hours. But oh to see the children's eyes light up like Christmas trees...priceless! Hope I get to do it again this year.

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Old 11-23-2009, 06:33 AM   #34
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I deliver meals to elderly/shut-in's through the local Meals-On-Wheels organization, twice a week.
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Old 01-15-2013, 08:41 PM   #35
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I deliver meals to elderly/shut-in's through the local Meals-On-Wheels organization, twice a week.
I just started doing the same. Also twice a week. It is gratifying, and I thought this might be a topic worth resurrecting. I am amazed by some of the houses I deliver to. Folks who have had a long and semi prosperous life now need to get at least one meal a day delivered. Is this a crystal ball? Volunteering is a good thing, if you can swing it.
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Old 01-15-2013, 09:01 PM   #36
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Charlotte is a new hero of mine. School libraries need the volunteers. She is right; the books just keep circulating. That is a good thing, but sure takes a lot of maintaining. I was a school librarian 30 years. They need you.

I have been a hospice volunteer for over ten years. You said this was out, and that is understandable, (i know i could not volunteer to help with abused children, but have friends that do and it is so important...but I just cannot fathom it) i have met many really great folks via hospice and it is mainly joy-filled, not usually sad. OK, sometimes it is very sad....Some fascinating life stories.

My DD was telling me about a friend who fosters dogs that have been abused. I am very interested in that, not immediately, because our dog is elderly and does not need that added. But, down the road....DH and i may volunteer for that. We would have take a vow NOT to adopt. Easier said, than done.
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Old 01-15-2013, 09:07 PM   #37
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Border collie rescue. I am the volunteer treasurer, foster home for dogs, and do home visits and transport when needed. Great thing to help these dogs find their forever homes! Been doing it for 10 years.
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Old 01-15-2013, 09:23 PM   #38
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Before DW and I FIREd we wrote a short list of several volunteer organizations/events we might enjoy. I checked out several of them via phone calls and personal visits to ensure the situation was what I expected. So we both left our employers knowing there were options for us if we found ourselves staring at the walls.

Reading this thread has given me several more good ideas in the event I find myself looking for more options.

For now we are plenty busy: DW volunteers at church as a wedding guild member. She doesn't organize the wedding but simply represents the church to ensure the wedding party is aware of the church requirements. Both of us volunteer periodically for the local Habitat for Humanity affiliate. In addition, we travel with our RV and work with Habitat in their RV Care-A-Vanner program. We've done RV CAV stints in Florida, New Jersey, Michigan, Louisiana and New Mexico. Later this year we'll be in Kentucky, Missouri and Arizona. The Habitat RV CAV program is a great fit for us. Here's a link:

RV Care-A-Vanners | Habitat for Humanity Int'l
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Old 01-15-2013, 09:34 PM   #39
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In retrospect, volunteering has just been a normal art of life...30+ years in scouting, church youth leader, Jr. Chamber of Commerce, Small Business Administration consulting, teaching classes, and in retirement an average of 25 hours/week helping with computers, working on activities committee stuff, etc...in our community.

Funny, in truth, never thought of this as volunteering... just a matter of liking people and feeling good about helping. So, in a way, if volunteering is a job and w**k, I guess I don't qualify.
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Old 01-16-2013, 04:59 AM   #40
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As mentioned a few times in other threads, I volunteer at free clinics in the US and abroad. I am the medical director of a couple of free clinics in Central America, and possibly Asia or Eastern Europe also in the next few years.
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