Tuesday, March 17, 2009

When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Volunteer

A trend among the newly unemployed is to volunteer. This is a great way to stay active, involved and possibly learn some new skills. With the economy in the doldrums, many non-profit organizations aren't receiving their usual charitable donations. Countering this financial deficit is the new influx of people willing to give their time. Volunteer time can be the most helpful donations a charity can receive.

Volunteering your time when you are looking for work might seem like the wrong use of your time, but staying engaged and hopeful can be the best medicine for you right now. Look at what time you have available, and then explore some local charities that could use your expertise. Whether you are helping out at your children's school, fixing a website for the local shelter or helping with bookkeeping at the health clinic, you will be using your skills to help others. And not surprisingly, you will probably expand your network of contacts. The executive director of the charity may also be involved in a new winery start-up, and after seeing how giving and skilled you were, would love to talk to you about a future position.

Volunteering is also a great way to explore new roles. If you have been in management for years, and are tiring of some of the emotional demands, try a different role. By allowing yourself to try on new duties, you might find an area of work that you really enjoy.

Enjoy yourself. This is a very important way to spend your time. You're not sitting on the couch watching TV. You're not wallowing in self pity. You are out there interacting with others. You are enjoying some new camaraderie. You are also getting to know some people in ways you haven't in the past. Helping out at the school allows you to see how your kid's day goes. While helping clean cages at the SPCA you get to see new families light up when they find their family pet. There are so many ways you can lighten up and have fun that you need to take advantage of it.

And most importantly, you'll be helping others.


Anonymous said...

That opening sentence hit my situation on the head! Unemployment can be a difficult thing to cope with especially in the hard times we are facing. I knew I wanted to get involved with the kids somehow, but I didn't know where to start. I recently began doing volunteer work at www.DreamsforKids.org - a Chicago based charity - and I have learned a whole lot from a business stand point. I have also grown to appreciate life much more, because doing charity work really puts life into prespective and allows us to be thankful for what we have. I reccomend to everybody to do some charity work atleast once in your life, you will never regret it!

Amy said...

Thank you for the great comment. It sounds like you are enjoying yourself while you are volunteering. Good luck with the job search!