7 Steps to Get Involved

1. Pursue Your Interests
If you’re doing something that you love, it shows. Not only will you feel better about yourself but you will give more effort and more time. If you’re a soccer chica, you love kids or you’re interested in art there is most likely an organization for you. Chances are you will be surprised by the amount of places you can volunteer your time while doing something you love. Just like you want to volunteer somewhere that interests you, you also want to be able to offer your own skills and expertise to help out. If you have experience with computers, offer your help in an office. If you’re fluent in Spanish, then you can help out at a bilingual organization.

2. Make a List of the 5 W’s of Volunteering
Besides knowing what you’re interested in, you should know the 5 W’s of volunteering. The possibilities of volunteering are endless. To narrow you search, begin by asking yourself the following questions. Once you figure out the answers to these questions, you will have a better idea of how you want to spend your time volunteering.

· What are the needs in your community?
· Who or what do you want to help?
· What can you do?
· Where do you want to volunteer?
· When do you want to volunteer?

3. Get Creative & Look Locally
National campaigns and ads for large non-profit organizations may make it feel as if the only places to get involved are the big organizations. Although there are many national organizations out there that you can get involved with, don’t forget that there are even more locally-run organizations that also need your help. Call up your local vet or after-school program offices and find out where your help is needed. Get creative! If your interest lies in the health field, don’t think that the only place you can volunteer is at hospitals. Contact neighborhood health clinics, blood donating organizations, pediatrics, and even retirement homes.

4. Bring a Friend
If you are not too sure about volunteering on your own; bring a friend, your sister or a cousin along with you. Volunteering is a great way to expand friendships and get closer with your favorite chica. But remember just because you may be the only one who wants to volunteer at a certain place, do not be afraid. The people you meet at some of these organizations are some of the nicest people you will meet.

5. Meet with the Organization
Finding a volunteering position is much like finding a job. You can do as much research on the internet or read as many brochures about a certain non-profit organization or volunteer cause but the best way to figure out if it’s a right fit for you is to actually go down to the place and meet the people who work and volunteer there. If you’re thinking about volunteering at a certain place but you’re not sure, then call the organization or e-mail them and set up a date to meet. Most places would love to accommodate a viewing or meeting session with prospective volunteers.

6. Don’t Over-Commit Your Schedule
While it is good to give as much time to volunteering as you can, committing too much time may come in way of family and school time. If you hardly have time for homework or to spend with your family, then don’t feel bad to ask for fewer hours or to work around your school schedule. Learning these time management skills will not only allow for more time to do the things you love now, but will become life-long skills that will come in handy for when you have your first job or when enter college.

7. Don’t be Afraid to Take Risks
Volunteer organizations will usually accommodate you and your experience level. If you’re interested in becoming a nurse or a doctor but you’ve never had formal training in nursing and you have no prior experience in the medical field, do not fear applying for a volunteer position in the hospital. Volunteering is a great first step to working in a certain field. After all, we all have to start somewhere so why not gain some hands-on experience while giving back to the community.

To find out more about how to get involved and to see some cool things teens are doing across the nation visit http://www.dosomething.org. And to find volunteer opportunities near you, enter your zip code at http://www.networkforgood.youthnoise.com.

April 2011

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