After reading Aliyah’s Spotlight Professional blog last month, Evaluating volunteer opportunities, I wanted to touch on another aspect of volunteering.
In many instances, spending time volunteering is an excellent way to give back to your community. However, volunteering also provides you with the opportunity to build skills and make connections in meaningful ways.
By joining committees and taking a more active role in volunteer causes/organizations you care about, you build skills that can help you professionally and connect with others who have similar goals and interests.
I started by volunteering for B Team Buffalo a little over four years ago. I now serve on their Board of Directors as Chairperson.
Specifically, I organize an event called City of Light, a community engagement initiative that decorates 100 houses in a neighborhood and provides toys and entertainment to area children through a winter carnival.
This event sees over 100 volunteers work together to illuminate a community in just over 12 hours. This year is the seventh year B Team is holding City of Light; having the opportunity to lead the committee putting it on is an incredible honor.
From donation requests, recruiting volunteers, managing schedules, event logistics, building relationships with community members and managing budgets, there are a number of skills you can improve or build through effective and impactful community service work.
Maybe an organization is looking for someone with a background in finance? Maybe they need someone with good customer service skills?
I have no doubt that after taking some time to get acclimated with a volunteer group, or groups, you will find ideas how how to make the most of your volunteership.
The thrill of seeing an event come together for a good cause, hearing families thank you for putting up decorations and seeing the smiles on kids faces makes all of the hours put in after work worth it.
Even more, getting the chance to work with other individuals and community members allows you to make connections that can help you both personally and professionally.
Another group that I’ve had a tremendous time volunteering with is Big Brothers Big Sister’s of Erie County. I have been a big for almost two years. When an email went out looking for individuals who were interested in serving on their “Big Mirror” committee, I knew I could help them out.
Having a background in admissions and recruitment, my professional skills aligned perfectly and I was comfortable talking with others about my experiences and why they might want to consider becoming a big brother or big sister.
Whatever your passion; food security, college affordability, homelessness, cancer awareness, etc., I encourage you to seek out opportunities to not just volunteer, but to use your skills to give back to these organizations in meaningful ways.
On a final note, if my story about City of Light has inspired you, we have several opportunities to engage with our cause:
- Sign up to volunteer on Saturday, December 6
- Donate to our Indiegogo campaign
- Join us for a Happy Hour on Wednesday, November 12 from 5:30 – 8:30 at Fat Bob’s
If you’re looking for more information on how to get involved with B Team, visit our website.