When I was in my mid-twenties, I decided that I wanted to see if I could make it anywhere—so, I moved to New York City. I got myself settled in a tiny Brooklyn studio, and I was making friends through work, but…I felt I needed something more. I wanted to feel a greater connection to my neighborhood, to carve out this little piece of the city as mine. Flipping through a local weekly, a notice caught my eye: New York Cares Day, a day for New Yorkers to volunteer at public schools and parks, rejuvenating the spaces with freshly painted walls, newly planted bulbs, and carefully weeded gardens. Perfect!
A few weeks later, I spent a crisp fall Saturday at a local public school, digging holes and shoveling dirt alongside Brooklyn neighbors. And the end of the morning, our group stood back to admire our handiwork, and the satisfaction each of us felt was palpable—not just that we did something good for our community, but that we did something good together.
Certainly, volunteering can be motivated by our interest in developing ourselves—by finding purpose in our activities or by gaining new skills and knowledge, for example. But perhaps the greatest potential of volunteering is that it can be a vehicle for community investment, precisely because it requires us to turn outward as well. Volunteering gives us ownership of our community’s needs, and a sense of agency to address those needs. What is more, serving and helping others alongside fellow volunteers—whether through a place of worship, a child’s school, or a local soup kitchen—can help grow our connectedness, and tighten the weave of our social fabric.
In this month’s NPCons Twitter chat, we’ll consider some of the following questions:
- What have been some of your personal or professional experiences with volunteering?
- What aspects of volunteering surprised you? Frustrated you?
- What caveats should volunteerism include?
- How has volunteerism informed or enhanced your work as a consultant?
- How have you seen volunteerism dramatically change an organization or a community?
- What does volunteerism make possible in terms of connection with others? For modeling our investment in communities?
Please join us for another lively, engaging Twitter chat on Tuesday, March 17, 1pm PDT, US. We look forward to seeing you then!