I have a confession to make: It's been years since I volunteered. Back in high school, I volunteered at our local auditorium. I was a member of the tech crew – handling everything from lights and sound to ushering and striking the set for professional, touring shows. It was a blast. I made friends, I gained responsibility, and I was able to contribute to something I dearly loved: theatre and the arts.
Here and there, I'd occasionally volunteer in college. But life got hectic – even more so when I landed my first "big girl job," left my college town, and went out on my own. Working full-time, I sometimes have enough of a hard time finding the time to blog, craft, DIY, or write... but for the last couple years I've had a nagging feeling that I need and want to do something more. Don't get me wrong – I feel purpose in my career, I find meaning in what I write and create at work.
But I've fallen in love with this community and I've been wanting to give back somehow. I've been wanting to put my writing, social media, blogging, and marketing skills to use somewhere outside of work, somewhere where I can impact. So I've kept my eyes open. I've considered local museums and theatres. I've thought about nearby shops that operate on donations and volunteers. And then, an idea popped into my head. Or rather, an idea plopped right onto my lap... in the form of my fluffy, purring cat Cotton.
Last December, I decided to adopt a cat. I ended up adopting two because Cotton and Dahlia both stole huge pieces of my heart. I adopted them both from a local no-kill, non-profit organization dedicated to animal rescue and safety. The no-kill part was so important to me. Dahlia had been in the facility for three years before I adopted her. And Cotton had been in the care of a foster pet-home for around three years. (Before that, she'd been kept in a dark, dingy basement and nearly thrown out into the countryside. A deaf, declawed cat in the countryside?! It broke my heart.) Anyway, they'd both been waiting a long time before I came along and took them home.
But that's how I met Sandy. Sandy, Cotton's foster pet-mom, runs a non-profit of her own that works closely with the shelter I adopted from. There are many non-profits around that rescue and find homes for animals, but Sandy's non-profit is a little different. Her Animal Resource Foundation specializes in spaying, neutering, and feeding pets in need. For instance, on one Saturday their volunteers may distribute about 30,000 pounds of pet food to local animal rescue groups and shelters in need. They provide financial assistance to pet-owners who need help affording spay/neuter surgeries that otherwise would not happen. They've provided vaccinations and worked with local shelters to find placement for cats and kittens in unsafe situations.
All of the good that her non-profit does requires not only money, but also the time and labor from volunteers. Sandy works incredibly hard, but there's only one of her. Volunteers are needed to help with anything from unloading pallets of pet food to making crafts and baked goods to sell for fundraising. On a young professional budget, I've lacked the money to donate. I've been wanting to donate my skills to help out with ARF, but due to the busy season at my full-time job, I lacked the time, too. Recently, things have started to slow down and level out. And perfect timing... Sandy reached out to me with a question. "You're a creative writer, aren't you? Could you help me re-word the message for our latest fundraiser?" My answer was an eager, resounding yes.
This month (and I foresee more months in the future) I'll be helping re-write some of the messaging for ARF to help better communicate what they do, how they help animals, and how they help local shelters and rescue organizations. I'm also hoping to help out with social media, some video editing, and website maintenance and updates.
I'm so excited to put my skills to work for such an awesome non-profit. You have experience, skills, and knowledge at your disposal, too. What if you could use all of it to contribute to a cause or help your community? Maybe you could tutor K-3 students in reading, assist people with their taxes, or volunteer as a docent at a museum. Searching for opportunities can seem overwhelming. I know – I've been there. And opportunities don't always curl up in your lap like a soft, purring cat.
That's where Create the Good comes in.
Create the Good is an online database full of community service, volunteering, and charity work opportunities. When you sign up, you can tell Create the Good about your skills and interests so that they can play matchmaker with you and volunteer opportunities. You can also search for yourself according to your life, skills, interests, and community.
Create the Good is kicking off their 25 Days, 25 Ways to Give campaign and encouraging you (and your friends, family, and coworkers) to do one positive action for the day for 25 days. Doing good can be as simple as holding open the door for someone or as elaborate as doing a major clean-sweep of your closet and donating gently used clothes. You'll also be entered in to be one of the 25 winners for a $100 gift card or the grand prize of a trip to Smuggler's Notch Resort in Vermont!
Here's the challenge:
Throughout the 25 Days, 25 Ways to Give campaign, do at least one positive action each day to help someone else. I'm doing it! And I encourage you to, too!
Sign up here. Then get out there and spread some joy.