Giva Student Scholarship and Worldwide Ambassador Award winner, Shila Vardell, shares her experience on how to jump start a volunteer effort.
Today's world is very hectic. People are constantly on the go with work, school, children and errands. It often seems like you have no free time to spend volunteering. Volunteering isn't always about the amount of hours you put in. It is more about the difference you make and the lives you change. When you make the decision to volunteer, you need to put your mind to it. It is easy to let time pass and never get around to it, but it is just as easy to get out and help others.
The first step to volunteering is to decide what you want to do. There are so many opportunities: feeding the homeless, washing animals at an animal shelter, delivering papers to patients in the hospital, helping with activities at a senior citizen home, helping out at your local library, etc. There are volunteer opportunities for everyone. Once you have chosen the volunteer opportunity you would like to take advantage of, it is up to you to set time aside out of your busy schedule. No one expects you to volunteer all day long, but even just an hour of your time can make such an impact on someone's life. After that one hour of volunteering, I guarantee you will be hooked. The feeling you get after you have made even the slightest impact on someone's life is so rewarding. You don't have to commit yourself to an actual volunteer schedule. Any time you have some free time, take that time and use it to make a difference.
I started volunteering when I was in high school. I felt like I always had exams to study for and papers to write. Not only was I bogged down with schoolwork, but I was also a cheerleader and on a dance team. On top of all of this, I was a waitress at a local restaurant. I felt like I never had any extra time for myself. One day I decided that I wanted to make a difference and do some volunteer work. I would characterize myself as empathetic and love to help people, so I knew that I would find the most satisfaction out of volunteering at a hospital. After looking at my schedule, I found that the only time I would be able to volunteer were Saturday mornings. As a high school student, giving up my Saturday mornings was a huge sacrifice but something I was willing to do. After my first day of volunteering, I felt so rewarded. The patients were so appreciative that I took time out of my day to spend with them. I ended up becoming very close to the extended stay patients and continued to volunteer at the hospital until I graduated high school and moved away for college. This just goes to show that as long as you dedicate yourself to volunteering, you will make time to do it and love every part of it.