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If you volunteer?
Old 11-20-2009, 11:57 AM   #1
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If you volunteer?

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.

I find I have too much time on my hands and thought it is probably time I used those hours in doing something different from what I am currently doing. I have been doing a bit of internet research and have found a couple of opportunities that might suit my personality. The first is as a volunteer tax preparer for United Way - as an accountant this would probably be a good fit for my skills. The second is as a food packer at the Food Bank (Freebird think you do something similar?).

I'm not going to pursue any opportunities with death or dying as I am not good emotionally in those areas, so anything hospital or hospice related is out. Most interesting volunteer opportunity I did find on Craigslist was someone wanted some zombie volunteers for a movie they were making.
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Old 11-20-2009, 12:34 PM   #2
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Since you mention an interest in extra work, how about supernumerary at the opera, or usher at any theater. I’ve never done that but knew people who did, performances seem to be flexible for the usher jobs and most ushers are seated in the best available seats, some wind up sitting on the stairs and others cannot watch the performance because they must stay near the doors. Museums and theaters also use volunteers in their gift shops.

I do a little volunteer work at the tenant union. It is mainly a matter of relaying information by e-mail but I have participated in meetings, some research with their atty., a protest and a radio interview. Also, some internet forums have volunteer opportunities!
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Old 11-20-2009, 12:42 PM   #3
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I volunteer and do taxes thru the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. DW volunteers at the Georgia Aquarium in the Spring/Summer. She is also a "Chicken Tender" at a local Garden Club near our home in Atlanta for part of the year. We both are looking for other volunteer opportunities.

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Old 11-20-2009, 12:50 PM   #4
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I've been a volunteer cop for the past nine years. Last year I starting volunteering at the court as well.

I enjoy the fact that my volunteer work is so much different than what I did to earn a living. I always learn something new, some situations get my adrenaline going, and my duties have shown me just how versatile I can be. Volunteering in these areas is a constant reminder of how fortunate I am.

I don't enjoy bringing some of the things I see and deal with home. I've had a few nightmares; these are rare, but it does happen.
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Old 11-20-2009, 12:53 PM   #5
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I've been doing tax prep for the AARP Tax-Aide program for about 5 yrs. I like it because it keeps you current on the new laws and the seniors we do the tax prep for are fun and appreciative of the work you do. Once in a while you run in a situation where you can really help........like the guy who came in w/ DW and one SS tax form. When I asked for the other, he said DW never worked and didn't get SS. They didn't know about the spousal benefit so I made him promise to do some homework and go claim the benefit. The next yr. during tax season, I saw someone waving and calling my name. Of course, I didn't recognize who it was......not one of my strengths in life.......but he had remembered. Gives a warm feeling knowing you helped.

A few yrs ago, I inquired about a literacy program sponsored by the library thinking there might be opportunities in tutoring math. I was encouraged to go through the training and then got corralled (sp?) into trying English instead since there were so few needs for the math. My learner entered a few writing contests and somehow managed to place 2nd in both of them. Again, quite gratifying to see them recognize that they do have some talent.

Side benefits.........free lunch during tax prep days, free annual volunteer recognition day lunches/dinners........sometimes you get to double-dip........Sr.Center & City for the tax prep; library and City for the literacy program......oh, and if your learner wins one of those writing contests, there are award luncheons too.

Try it........you'll like it.
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Old 11-20-2009, 02:11 PM   #6
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I'm a volunteer at the local animal shelter. I foster kittens until they are old enough for adoption and frequently deal with all the ailments shelter kitties come in with. I'm also the board of a non-profit group set up to assist the shelter. We do fund raising events and use the money donated to assist the shelter animals with things above and beyond what a municipal, taxpayer funded organization can do. This includes medical attention for animals who are adoptable, but are suffering from an injury or medical condition. Last week, we funded surgery for a dog animal control brought in with a broken leg.

The upside is I love animals and the work is much different than my prior profession as a financial regulator. The downside is seeing so many animals abandoned and abused. I've seen animals brought in from puppy mills, animal hoarders, and other horrible situtions. It's amazing how most of these animals still have love in their hearts.
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Old 11-20-2009, 02:13 PM   #7
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DW volunteers at a hospital. Mostly she sits at a desk in the lobby and tells visitors where to go. I would not enjoy that, but she looks forward to her one day per week of "work."
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Old 11-20-2009, 02:42 PM   #8
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I lead hikes with the local Appalachian trail club and sometimes volunteer to build/maintain trails.
I also participate in the Angel Flight program and fly those in need of transportation to their medical appointments and such.
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Old 11-20-2009, 03:11 PM   #9
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I volunteer as a Master Gardener and work in an organic vegetable patch. We plant, tend and harvest the produce along with giving workshops to teach the public how to grow organic food.

I also knit baby hats for newborns and premies and donate them to local hospitals.

I'd like to work in a food bank but am hesitant to start another thing. I think the local food bank likes volunteers to work the same shift each week. I might try adding that next year.
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Old 11-20-2009, 03:29 PM   #10
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I volunteer at the local humane society taking photos of the adoptable dogs and writing up their descriptions which get uploaded to their web site. I also am on call to do dog transport for them -- driving their van to pick or drop off dogs at other shelters. I get a kick out seeing the different types of dogs -- some are very nice, others need lots of training or socialization. Its interesting to follow up on the dogs I've photo'd to see when they get adopted.

I also have done fund raising telephone shifts for the local community radio station taking pledges.

Both are something totally different from what I've done before, and they wouldn't be possible if I was still working.

-- Rita
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Old 11-20-2009, 03:37 PM   #11
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I used to volunteer at a crisis hotline (for victims of domestic violence) -- this was about 20 years ago.

Also, did one time volunteering at a race to benefit those challenged. My and another volunteer's role at the race was to pull off and collect the numbers off the runners when they crossed the finish line. That was fun, you'd be amazed how wet with sweat some of the numbers got.

Not volunteering presently.
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Old 11-20-2009, 03:50 PM   #12
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I was volunteering for Habitat for Humanity, but my elbow started giving me trouble (from swinging a hammer, etc) and they kept pestering me to take on more responsibility, which was what I was trying to avoid. Also they mainly wanted me to work on weekends and in the summer which is when my DW is off from her teaching j*b, so that was a conflict. It was fun, especially working with the younger corporate volunteers.
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Old 11-20-2009, 03:57 PM   #13
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For three years I taught basic computing (PC basics, email, web browsing, Word, Excel, and Powerpoint), resume development and job search skills to low income immigrants. The classes were twice a week, 2 hours computing and 1 hour resume/interview,etc. I enjoyed doing it but couldn't continue because of travel. The semesters were 18 weeks long.

Now I am one of a couple of PC fixit guys for a nonprofit dedicated to helping local residents age in place. The nonprofit provides a variety of help (transportation, light maintenance, etc) to members - 80% through volunteers. I enjoy this also and will keep doing it since I set my own schedule and can take off on vacations at will.
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Old 11-20-2009, 10:07 PM   #14
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I do career preparation lectures at a university in Japan (lectures targeted at international students) and when we visit Hawaii I usually take a day to go to a university there to either career related lecture or have discussion sessions with the Japanese student population who are targeting a return to their homeland upon their graduation. I love doing it, and a couple of the people I work with have asked if I could do something similar at their alma maters in the US. Not much time to do those currently, but may do them sometime in the future.

I'm thinking of putting together a proposal for the local jr college near our home in the US to do a series on personal financial planning and budgeting, but that will be after FIRE.

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Old 11-20-2009, 10:16 PM   #15
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Every week, I do ESL tutoring one day and teach a children's class at our church the next day. Although I love both of these, they require planning on my part, which I hate. I would love a volunteer gig where I just showed up and someone told me exactly what to do, however, like "shelve these books" at the library or something.

DH is a docent at a historical landmark among other things. He really enjoys it.
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Old 11-21-2009, 09:05 AM   #16
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MIL volunteered at the state aquarium for many years. She enjoyed working with children.
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Old 11-21-2009, 09:38 AM   #17
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I volunteered for several years with a local rescue squad. Some of it was hard to do - that was the first time I'd ever seen someone die - but it was also great to hear from the ER doc "...that guy would have died if you hadn't..."

Real life time pressures and keeping up with my job forced me to leave. No some minor back and knee issues keep me from going back to it.

What I did NOT like about it was getting out of bed at 3:00 AM racing to a call for a heart attack and finding the guy standing on his front porch with his suitcase packed.

Gee... why didn't you just call a taxi? Perhaps because you'd have to pay for it?
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Old 11-21-2009, 09:47 AM   #18
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I'm not retired (yet) but:
  • I know two people who volunteer with Meals on Wheels and find the experience very rewarding. Putting together the food is pleasantly social, and delivering it to folks in need is rewarding, recipients are usually most grateful.
  • Know another volunteer who works with the local symphony. Can't get enough because she loves classical music and gets some insider bennies (seats, sitting in on rehearsals, meeting/knowing musicians).
  • Have an older Aunt who is an usher for her local repertory theatre group. She likes socializing with the other volunteers, but mostly does it because she sees every production for free.
Just do something that you enjoy, would seem it would be hard to go wrong.
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Old 11-21-2009, 10:28 AM   #19
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I knit a lot of warm woolen items (socks, sweaters, hats, mittens, etc.) for children in Russian orphanages. The woman who organized the group travels to the orphanages twice a year to deliver all the handmade items.

In the past I've done some website work and set up eBay auctions for another charitable organization.

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?
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Old 11-21-2009, 11:48 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ksr View Post
I knit a lot of warm woolen items (socks, sweaters, hats, mittens, etc.) for children in Russian orphanages. The woman who organized the group travels to the orphanages twice a year to deliver all the handmade items.

In the past I've done some website work and set up eBay auctions for another charitable organization.

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?
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
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