Getting Involved in Local Community Service
As a college student, you are in a unique stage of life and are uniquely qualified to serve. You have some things to offer that others just don't have and there are many opportunities to serve in the local community. Spend some time thinking about a good match between what you have to offer and what the real needs are.
What do you have to offer?
- Are you willing to commit to a long term relationship? There are occasionally situations in our community where you can be helpful on a one time basis, but the most meaningful service opportunities (both for you and the organization) happen over the long haul.
- When are you available? Sometimes the flexibility of your schedule is just what an organization needs.
- What are you excited about? Your energy level is another potential gift to the community - both your physical energy as a younger person and your emotional energy, as well as your level of excitement about wanting to do something that matters.
- What are you good at and what have you done before? Maybe you grew up with lots of brothers and sisters and know how to work with kids or maybe you did a lot of projects around the house so are familiar with how to paint or use a drill. Think about the real life experience you offer.
- What have you been learning that you'd like to put to use? Maybe you've been taking an interesting class and would like to practice some of the things you've talked about there.
- What do you love? Think about the sorts of things that make you excited - music, sports, construction, architecture, playing, talking one on one, elderly people, kids, food, cooking, crafts....
- What do you want to learn? Maybe there are skills you'd like to develop - talking with people, construction, painting, food preparation, program planning… Volunteering with an agency who is able to teach you may work out for you and for them.
Learn about some places in our community.
- Find out what real needs are. Do any of the things you have to offer match those needs?
- Find out the history of the organization. How did they get started and why? How do they fit into the story of our community as a whole?
- Find out who to talk to about volunteering. There may be someone who coordinates volunteers.
- What's their experience with volunteers been like in the past? What's been helpful about having volunteers and what's been difficult?
- What do you need to learn in order to serve there?
- Agree on a time frame with the organization. Which day(s) will you serve? How long will you continue? A semester? A year? Be someone they can depend on.
- Show up when you say you will. Be someone they can depend on.
- Don't just set your own agenda, keep learning about what the real needs are.
- Offer what you have and ask them if that's what they need. Be someone they can depend on.