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Volunteering
Old 04-30-2010, 07:13 AM   #1
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Volunteering

I had an 'experience' two days ago. While out on a site inspection at work, I saw an older husband and wife with a flat tire. The man asked me for help. He couldn't jack his mini-van high enough to get clearance to put on his spare. The problem was that the entire underbody was rusted to the point where jacking was causing metal to collapse while lifting the car. So I used my jack and lifted the transaxle enough to put on the spare.

They thanked me over and over again. They said that they had asked for help from others and no one would help them. They never could have done it themselves, and I'm glad that I stopped to help. It made me feel like I accomplished something. The feeling of physically helping someone gave me more satisfaction than any cash donation I have ever made.

I told DW the story and that I wanted to start volunteering to organizations helping people. I'm thinking of the local hospital, or maybe Habitat for Humanity.

Anyone have any good ideas?
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Old 04-30-2010, 07:17 AM   #2
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Meals-on-wheels?
Lots of places have groups that deliver meals to the elderly. Volunteers have the advantage of actually meeting the folks they are helping.
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Old 04-30-2010, 07:22 AM   #3
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I second IP's suggestion. My sister has been a Meals-on-Wheels volunteer for many years and really enjoys it. Unfortunately she's about at the point she'll have to stop and become a client...
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Old 04-30-2010, 09:00 AM   #4
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I volunteered for Habitat for a while and it was rewarding to work with the future owners - mostly. Some were obviously scamming the system - living together, but not married, thus applying with only wife's income claimed. Like most w*rking circumstances, once they realize that you are competent and have a w*rk ethic, they want you to w*rk more and take on more responsibility. Then it starts to feel like a j*b. That is when I checked out. I've considered doing the meals on wheels thing, but hate to lock myself into a schedule.
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Old 04-30-2010, 12:36 PM   #5
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The problem with most volunteering areas is you have to adhere to a schedule. After 9 1/2 years, I got tired of mine....

Check and see if your community has an Outreach center; mine does and it offers many volunteer opportunities. One area that does not require a schedule is being a handy man. People can do anything from replacing a light bulb to painting a house. I'm not sure if volunteers have to be bonded however.
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Old 04-30-2010, 01:08 PM   #6
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I've been volunteering with the local Meals-On-Wheels organization, since I retired three years ago.

I deliver meals 1/2x a week (depends on the time of year) to 10-15 people. The route (pick-up, delivery, drop-off) takes around two hours (some routes take less, some more).

The organization is large enough that we have plenty of volunteers, so if an emergency comes up I can call in the morning and they will get a substitute (although I rarely do this); however, I don't feel at all "obligated" to be there.

In additon, I give blood at the local blood bank every eight weeks.

BTW, for those who have done MOW (or know somebody who has), you really get to appreciate what you have in life. There are those (both aged and disabled) who's lifestyle's are much less than the volunteers (and I would suppose a lot of folks on this forum).

It's good to give back, IMHO...
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Old 04-30-2010, 01:31 PM   #7
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Ronstar, I just finished a season volunteering with AARP's Tax Aide program, helping seniors and low-income folks with income taxes. I found it very rewarding. It's also very seasonal, which is a plus for me.

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Old 04-30-2010, 02:46 PM   #8
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One area often overlooked is non-firefighting volunteering at VFDs. Often daytime telephone coverage is very short.
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Old 04-30-2010, 03:49 PM   #9
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I still work full time but I volunteer a few hours a month as a dog walker for the Humane Society. Sometimes they call me to come in for extra hours if someone can't make their shift.
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Old 04-30-2010, 07:13 PM   #10
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I love my volunteer work at the Animal Shelter. The schedule is very flexible and I can do as little or as much as I want. Feeling like I make a difference is important to me and I get that every time I look into those furry faces.
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Old 04-30-2010, 08:47 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ronstar View Post
II'm thinking of the local hospital, or maybe Habitat for Humanity.
My impression of hospital volunteering is that you need to have a high gross-out tolerance for whatever may come your way, even if you're just the parking-lot valet. But I could be wrong.

This article is nearly eight years old, but I've tremendously enjoyed reading its take on volunteer work:
Candy Striper, My Ass! A culture clash is looming as a high-powered wave of retiring executives meets the genteel world of volunteerism. - August 14, 2000

I've heard from a number of people all over the nation about Habitat. The organization itself (and its projects) seem to be very well run. Never heard anything less than stellar about Habitat. What has occasionally annoyed the volunteers, though, is the sense of entitlement, the grudging cooperation, and the apparent lack of gratitude rarely displayed by a recipient of H4H's largesse. There have also been cases where the family has rolled up to do their sweat equity in a late-model SUV with nice clothing (unsuited for carpentry, let alone drywall), Starbucks, fast food, and other indications of being financially oblivious. I think the positives of H4H still outweigh these isolated negatives.

I did the Treasurer's job for a small non-profit for three years, which was OK. I enjoyed having to learn the non-profit accounting & tax rules and it was fun to manage the finances. But now I've been there & done that.

Maybe you don't actually have to do nice things for people but rather the environment or education. 20 years ago when we were stationed in Monterey, spouse and I tremendously enjoyed being guides at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. We had to take a long series of classes (biology and critter nomenclature) and you could choose the type of exhibit interpretation that appealed to you. But you were expected to show up at least weekly and sometimes you had to share the really fun stuff with other guides. And in the summertime, when the Aquarium would crank through 9,000-10,000 visitors per day, the touch tank seemed like more of a battleground than a critter playpen.

Spouse is now enjoying working with a literacy group (for military families) and at a military memorial visitor's center. But what she really enjoys about those organizations is the measure of autonomy she's given as well as learning how a well-funded non-profit does its business.

I haven't done any volunteer work since that Treasurer's gig. Haven't found anything that appeals to me.
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Old 04-30-2010, 11:48 PM   #12
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I think I've read that article before Nords, as have you probably read Phillip Greenspun's take on early-retirement and volunteering.
Quote:
Once word gets around town that you are retired, non-profit orgs will start rattling your cage. Whatever your IQ, education, certifications, and skills might be, the assumption will be that you are past it, a doddering old fool incapable of doing more than writing a check. If you believe in their mission, however, it doesn't make sense to write them a check. Donating money to charity is great for busy people with jobs and the obscenely wealthy who are maintaining their social status with displays of spending surplus cash. As an early retiree, however, your comparative wealth is mostly in the time that you can choose to spare. If the non-profit organization can't come up with a way to use your brains, skills, and time, tell them to get their cash from the time-starved working rich and the multi-billionaires.

Most important, do not retire in the expectation that it will be easy to find rewarding non-profit volunteer work.
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I like the literacy group idea, if the program is well-run - that might be a thought at some point in the future. That or I might go back to the Y and do some coaching again. If I'm going to volunteer my time I want it to be meaningful for me and the people I would work with. Being free labor for scut work is not my idea of meaningful.
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Old 05-01-2010, 12:47 AM   #13
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I like the literacy group idea, if the program is well-run - that might be a thought at some point in the future.
Well, I can vouch that the segment in Hawaii is extremely well-run...

United Through Reading - Military Program : Overview

It's been going since the days of VHS cassette tapes. Technology is starting to catch up to the concept now with DVD camcorders, and the Army is even tinkering with an Army-families-only version of YouTube. Target Corp has been kicking in a high-six-figure annual donation, especially in conjunction with the opening of their new Oahu stores.

The deploying unit (ship, submarine, division, MEU, air wing) gets a DVD camcorder, a big box of books, and a pile of blank DVDs. Some equipment/supplies are donated by sponsors like Target, others are funded by the command's money. Video rooms are set up in country, on ships, at various bases & liberty ports, and most especially at airport USOs (for use during layovers). The parents set up the camcorder in the video room, shut the door for privacy, start the camcorder, and read the book to their kids while doing all the goofy things that parents do while reading to their kids. Then they mail the book & DVD to the kids, and the kids read along in the book while watching the DVD. Submariners, with limited onboard space and no privacy, typically record a half-dozen of these at the squadron chaplain's office before deploying and just hand them to their families to pull out at various times over their absence.

Some families play their DVDs at a certain time of day, some pop them in when they need to start dinner or do a load of laundry. Others keep them looping all day long; the kids pass through and plop down when they reach the favorite part of their book. Others play the DVD at bedtime so that the kids can read along as their deployed parent does the book. Somewhere on the website is a picture of a baby toddling up to kiss the TV screen goodnight with its image of their (deployed) mommy/daddy. Really tugs at their heartstrings during the family pre-deployment briefs.

UTR also has branches for grandparents & prisoners to read to their kids.
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Old 05-01-2010, 05:51 AM   #14
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Thanks everyone! Some really great ideas.

I'm still open to Meals on Wheels - sounds like something I would enjoy. But maybe not Habitat - I don't want to get involved in donating time for anyone scamming the system. I've heard similar stories.

I never thought of the fire department - even though I live in a volunteer fire district. Maybe there is something for an old guy like me to do - wash the trucks, dispatcher, etc

I like the animal shelter and dog walker ideas. I have a friend whose daughter works at a shelter and she loves it - but she wants to take all the animal home. I'll get some info from her.

We don't have an Outreach Center in our area - but I've found several similar programs in my county that look interesting.

I never thought of volunteering for anything that didn't benefit people. But I can see doing things for the environment or education. We have a state park a few miles away that has volunteers. I'll check it out for opportunities.
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Old 05-01-2010, 07:12 AM   #15
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I like the one-to-one contact the OP experienced. I am the "PC fixit" go-to-guy for our neighborhood "aging in place" organization (a leader in the national "Villages" movement). I get to meet lots of fascinating people and can do it when convenient to me. And, if the outfit succeeds over the years, I will have lots of resources available to me when I find myself aging in place If you are in a major city see if they have such an organization and what volunteer opportunities are available. Ours achieves 70% of its services through volunteers. Everything from drivers to light home repairs to office work and, of course, technology assistance.
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Old 05-01-2010, 05:22 PM   #16
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Since I'm hard of hearing, I'm not too keen in doing people oriented volunteering, but I'm keeping my eyes open for something that might fit me.

My daughter tutors for our local literacy program and is also a big sister to a nice little girl.
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Old 05-01-2010, 05:41 PM   #17
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And, of course, volunteering does not have to be a formal arrangement. See if your elderly or handicapped neighbor needs a ride to the doctors, or take them grocery shopping, or cut their grass or walk their dog. There is something to be said for "Love Thy Neighbor..." I recently helped an elderly neighbor scope out some personal care homes. Also helped him pack up his clothes and actually make the move. His out-of-state kids are seeing to the clearing out and sale of his house. I didn't really volunteer in the strict sense of the word for this. He called me as he knows what I do for a living and I gave him some lists, suggested he consult with the kids. He later called to ask about taking the taxi to visit some places that he had zeroed in on, and that is when I volunteered my services as chauffeur.
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