Volunteering in Uncertain Times

April is National Volunteer Month, and it is the perfect time to spring into action and start volunteering. It has been a challenge these past 12 months to find a place to volunteer as a group. Organizations are still working to find ways to resume volunteer activities safely. With folks staying closer to home, it is more important than ever to pitch in and keep our communities enjoyable and welcoming.

Advisicon has a Community Outreach Program and a paid Employee Volunteer Program through which our staff each receive 48 hours of paid volunteer time annually. It is exciting to see our Advisicon Family participate in this program and help others in our communities.

Benefits of Volunteering

Volunteering has many positive benefits on the mind and body, some of which include connecting you to others, reducing the risk of depression, advancing your career, and bringing fun and fulfillment to your life. Of these, my favorite is the knowledge that there is a relationship between volunteering and happiness. The London School of Economics examined this relationship and found that the more people volunteered, the happier they were. I know I am a happier person when I make time to volunteer, especially when I am volunteering with friends or family.

What We Did

Advisicon’s latest Community Outreach Event was cleaning and weeding a butterfly garden at a local school. Since we are in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, most schools have not been in person for over a year, and this garden needed some TLC. There were carrots still in the raised beds from the last planting, and no one was around to harvest them last summer. We even came upon a rabbit living in the weeds. I bet he was enjoying the leftover carrots.

We pulled weeds and readied seven raised beds for planting for the school’s upcoming planting day in May. There were so many weeds that we overflowed four 32-gallon garbage cans. We enjoyed the sunshine and warm weather during our volunteer event.

The Advisicon staff had a fun time together and enjoyed giving back to the community. We all left happier than when we arrived. The school is happy too. Here’s a comment from the principal of the local school.

Thank you so much for you and your team’s assistance today weeding our butterfly garden. The flower beds look amazing. I know the staff is looking forward to our planting day next month. Thank you for your group’s time today. It is much appreciated.”

What You Can Do

Are you looking to decrease your stress and improve your own mental and physical health?  Then volunteering is an idea for you. If you are looking for virtual volunteer opportunities, below is a diverse range of ideas shared by Umpqua Bank’s volunteer program:

  • American Red Cross offers opportunities to help those in need while refreshing or acquiring skills that corporations everywhere seek.
  • Catchafire improves the quality of the volunteer experience by providing pro bono opportunities for skilled professionals.
  • Idealist connects people, organizations, and resources to help build a world where all people can live free and dignified lives.
  • Taproot Foundation is a skilled volunteer matching website.
  • VolunteerMatch offers a variety of online services to support a community of nonprofit, volunteer, and business leaders committed to civic engagement. Its internet recruiting tool engages more than 88,000 nonprofit organizations.
  • AllforGood is a hub for volunteerism and community service on the Internet.
  • UN Volunteers matches skilled volunteers with project-based volunteer opportunities.
  • CareerVillage is a web platform that matches the career questions students ask with volunteers.
  • Crisis Text Line is a free 24/7 national crisis intervention and counseling service conducted exclusively through SMS text. Volunteers use the nonprofit’s web-based platform to provide emotional support to texters who are dealing with a wide range of issues—bullying, self-harm, suicidal thoughts, and more.
  • Hire Heroes USA works to create job opportunities for U.S. military veterans and their spouses. Most of their volunteers participate remotely helping with mock interviews, career counseling, or providing guidance on job searches, preparing resumes, and filling out applications.
  • MicroMentormatches small business owners with business mentors. Volunteer mentors should have three years of business ownership experience or five years of management experience or several years of professional experience in a specialized skill.
  • icouldbe.org connects the energy and expertise of mentors from various professions with the most vulnerable students in the U.S. educational system.

We’re Here to Help

In-person volunteering is harder to find right now, but many organizations need help. If you would like help finding an opportunity for you, we’d be happy to help however we can. You can get in touch with us here. I had to reach out to several organizations to find a place for our Advisicon group to work together, so I know the struggle well. We wanted to be outside, to enjoy the weather, and to make sure we were limiting our exposure to COVID-19.

Volunteers come in all shapes and sizes. They pick a cause and make a difference in someone’s life. Sometimes the difference a drop in the bucket. Other times it creates a tidal wave of change. It is possible to find the right opportunity for you; it just may take a bit of work and time. But it will be worth it!