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How to be a Smart Volunteer

Giving Back

Written by staff from Health Services and the Office of Philanthropy

Volunteer opportunities abound at Panorama and in our larger community. Using your time or skills to give back can be an extremely rewarding experience. Volunteering gives you the opportunity to make an impact on the lives of others, whether directly or indirectly. A phrase often heard in this community is I’m busier now than I ever was before. Having an active lifestyle is a key factor in healthy living; however, the power of doing nothing at times can be restorative and contribute to a new creative energy. Carefully consider your personal time before committing to a full schedule.

If you choose to volunteer, give your self time to experiment and find an organization or cause that can fill you up rather than create stress and drain your energy. Before you make the decision to volunteer, here are some helpful tips to consider:

Be comfortable with all the reasons you are volunteering.

There are many good reasons to volunteer, and it’s important to understand that many of them involve meeting your own needs. That’s not being selfish. Most people do altruistic things for personal reasons, and that’s okay!

Choose a cause that you’re passionate about.

Find your passion, a cause that excites you, and find a volunteer opportunity that lets you express that passion. Some enjoy volunteering in a role that fits their career skill-set while others prefer to try something new.

Find an opportunity that matches your schedule.

Volunteers spend different amounts of time in their work, but the best matches are those where supply and demand are balanced. Be certain to under commit and over deliver. Nonprofits love and need volunteers. Know how much you can participate and don’t be afraid to say ͚no if it gets overwhelming.

Make sure it’s the right fit.

There are more than 100 groups and activities at Panorama, and even more in the greater community. Like a job, your voluntary activities require the right matches. Evaluate the time you are willing to commit and select the opportunities that fit your schedule and interests.

You are never obligated to continue in a volunteer role if you no longer enjoy it or you simply have too much on your plate. You owe it to yourself and the organization to share your feelings and reduce your role, discontinue your participation, or seek out a new opportunity.

You or a loved one may find yourself dealing with health issues or other stressors, and volunteering can easily add to your stress. Please be aware of your body’s cues that you have over-committed (feeling anxious, irritable, depressed, etc.) and make any adjustments in your activities as needed to restore your energy and well-being.