By Suesie Love
The holidays are right around the corner. Bursting with spirit, many find themselves wanting to give back to the community. Are you thinking about volunteering and doing something meaningful but donâ°ÃÂªt know where to start?
Finding the right volunteer opportunity can be tough. I work in the office of a small community food bank, in addition to running a Womenâ°ÃÂªs Program for clients. I am the person answering the phone and telling you that we canâ°ÃÂªt accept baked goods from home (food safety issue) or have your child volunteer (insurance issues), or schedule a group from work to help at Christmas (space, training and scheduling issues). Please donâ°ÃÂªt give up. Volunteering is absolutely worth the effort and commitment.
Learning the ropes
Most Non-profits have a process that includes an application and orientation. When you handle food, you need some form of food safety training, dealing with vulnerable populations mean a police check, and an orientation trains you on the way the system works. The process can be daunting. To support my work at the food bank I completed an application with three character references, attended a scheduled orientation, attended food service training, completed both Mental Health First Aid and St. Johnâ°ÃÂªs First Aid Certification courses as well as provided a Police Check. In my experience, my level of fulfillment increased with the level of my commitment.
The power of volunteering
I was recently talking to a friend of mine, David Allen, who knows a thing or two about volunteering. David was the Director of Volunteer Toronto and has years of experience in the Non Profit sector. He agreed that being a fulfilled volunteer relies on how engaged you are with the cause and organization. The more you feel you are contributing, the better your experience.
Tips to help you find your next perfect volunteer job:
- Define your causeâ°ÃÃ what are you passionate about? Hunger, homelessness, the environment, finding a cure for a disease that has touched your life?
- Network â°ÃÃ do you know anyone who is volunteering and loving it? Get their feedback.
- Research â°ÃÃ a quick Google search highlighted three sites that would be useful for Avanti Women who work and live in the GTA and beyond
- Ask for information interviews and tours â°ÃÃ Many organizations have public open houses or tours available and would be happy to answer your questions on the phone or via email.
The sites I found in my quick Google search include:
Findmyspark â°ÃÃ Part of a legacy initiative for the Pan/Parapan American Games 2015, SPARK is Ontarioâ°ÃÂªs first bilingual online volunteer gateway
Volunteer Canada â°ÃÃ a portal with access to 200 volunteer organizations across Canada
Volunteer Toronto â°ÃÃ a site that provides information and resources for volunteers, connecting volunteers to the organizations that need them. A great feature of the site is the ability to search, and quite possibly find an opportunity this holiday season.
I have gained so much from all my volunteer experience. I truly believe in Gandhiâ°ÃÂªs saying â°ÃÃThe best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.â°ÃÂ Go find yourself!
Avanti Women has a busy year planned for 2018. If you want to be involved with inspirational women at great events supporting women let us know â°ÃÃ firstname.lastname@example.org
Weâ°ÃÂªre feeling generous this month! Be sure to join us for these three amazing events, complimentary for Avanti Women members:
- How hats made a difference to 2900 children and over 500 volunteers â°ÃÃ Dec. 7 at 7 p.m.
- Volunteerism as a tool for success with Avanti Women Alumni Katy Privett â°ÃÃ Dec. 12 at 12 p.m.
- Make 2018 your best year ever with Michelle Hamelin â°ÃÃ Dec. 14 at 12 p.m.