Volunteering Can be A Scary Prospect
By Beth Wenger, Program Director for KEEN Greater DC-Baltimore
You’re busy. I get it. Time is our most precious commodity, and it’s fleeting. That’s scary. The thought of volunteering some—or more--of that time can seem even scarier. It conjures up a whole bunch of “what ifs,” such as: What if I lose all my me time? What if I don’t like it? What if what I do doesn’t make a difference? What if I miss some other opportunity?
Truth is, all of those “what ifs” are possible, but so are a bunch of other things—good things. By volunteering or volunteering more than you already do, you could add to your life in ways you might not have imagined otherwise. At the very least, you’ll expand your social network and meet some of the best people around.
Still, volunteering for the first time—or taking on a new volunteer role--can feel like a big leap into the unknown. But, if you’ve chosen the organization to volunteer with wisely, it aligns with your interests and will allow you to gain insight and experience with an interest area in a way you might not be able to otherwise without some serious, costly investment. And, if you have set boundaries in place, you’ll be able to give without becoming consumed.
You could also gain skills and confidence that can transfer to your work that pays the bills and that might allow you to climb higher there or elsewhere. Most volunteer projects, for example, conduct orientation and training for new volunteers. Stepping into the role of orientation leader provides the opportunity to work on public speaking skills. Many volunteer projects need people to be the lead organizer of people and the activities. Becoming a project lead as a volunteer provides the opportunity to build supervisory, management and organizational skills, which are skills that all businesses, nonprofits and government agencies need in their teams.
No matter what role you choose to play, when you step out of your world and into the world of volunteering, magic can happen. The troubles and headaches of everyday life can disappear for the moment and shrink in the big picture. Meanwhile, your good work, regardless of how much you give, is making the impossible, possible and creating a better, stronger community for all of us.