Lost Art: Local Volunteer

Portraits of my children.

I was going to finish up a post to share why and when I think you should decide to “Go Organic” or become an independent food consumer. But, I have something else on my mind that I want to share while the glee is still in me. Anyone who has visited my home can tell that we love art. For Mother’s Day I got my gift yesterday: Silhouette Portraits of my kids. I have always admired this old art form – portraiture for the common folks.

I am delighted to have these portraits, and to see the artist, Karl Johnson making a living for himself with a “lost art.”

My mind took the thought further and made the connection to something else close to my heart: volunteering locally. I know many people who volunteer or lend a hand by sending money to worthy causes, but I see less who get out into the world face to face with their cause.  With social networking sites making it as easy as clicking a button to support these causes, there is less of a reason for people to leave their comfort zone. There is nothing wrong with this, but I think you may be missing out.

Me and my neighbors ready to work for a few hours on Saturday.

Last weekend our family was consumed by my cause – I am a volunteer with our neighborhood council. I helped plan and host a neighborhood clean up event. We had enough folks show up (with kids in tow) to fill an Adopt-A-Street Team to pick up trash on our main thoroughfare street, spruce up the park by pulling weeds and mulching, and refreshing the Welcome to Delridge Sign.

I coordinated a smaller event last year dedicated only to the Delridge Park, and it was cool to see that sprout into something bigger this year. To be perfectly honest, I couldn’t have done this type of thing three years ago with a new baby and an almost 3-year-old. But, now that the kids are almost 3 and 5, I am finding the time to get involved and volunteer locally – An always helpful husband helps too! So, if you have kids or are doubting the benefits of being a local volunteer wherever you live, let me share why I think it’s better than an social networking.

Volunteering is better than Social Networking because:

– You engage with people face to face opening up a new horizon for friendships, and can really see who they are more than in a bio on the computer screen or a one minute introduction with a business card.

– You get those “warm fuzzy” feelings that last longer than clicking a “support” button.

– You can learn new things about yourself (like you may find that you LOVE pulling weeds to let off steam).

Refreshing the Welcome to Delridge sign.

How to choose where to volunteer:

1) What are you passionate about? Make a list of 5 things.

2) Look around your community for ways to apply those passions. For example, if you love animals, you may live near an animal shelter. You could walk those poor critters, comb their hair, pet them, etc. once a month or week.

3) Make some calls and if you walk into a wall, look for another venue. If you’re the animal lover and the animal shelter is booked with volunteers, maybe you could organize a fundraiser for the shelter instead.

Got Kids? No problem!

If you are in those first 3 months of “newborn honeymoon” just focus on getting your parental bearings…If you need to get out of the house and talk to adults, then start small.  Maybe you could bake cookies for a clean up event. Or attend a meeting for a local fundraiser and offer to create a flier.

Showing off "treasures" - trash found in the park.

If you have kids old enough to walk or help, you can find something to do together. Our clean up event last weekend was in a park. So, our 2-year-old spent time loading a bucket with weeds I was pulling, then would take breaks to swing on the swing-set. Our 4-year-old loved using a gardening claw and loosened the soil to pull weeds for me. Another mom recruited her 3-year-old to pick up trash around the park, kinda like hunting for Easter Eggs. The limitations with having kids can seem huge, but really if you can take the time to think creatively and look for opportunities to include them, you can have a lot of fun volunteering together.

Since getting out and volunteering locally, I’ve met amazing neighbors from a Lawyer, a Doula, and Small Business Coach to a DIY Hobby Girl. And I’ve learned that I love planning events!

One quote that rings true to this theme: “One person can make a difference, and everyone should try.” – J.F. Kennedy

4 thoughts on “Lost Art: Local Volunteer”

  1. I love that I get to meet new neighbors each time we do one of these community events. Especially the adopt-a-street one. At the last event, I got to meet the land lord to a rental house. It was good to make contact with her since she doesn’t live in the area. Best part is that she went on and on about the website (that I created).

    1. Super cool that you were able to talk with her and get direct feedback on your hard work for the website.

      You’re one of the people that makes me so glad I got involved with the NDNC. I don’t know that we would have struck up such a friendship just passing each other in the neighborhood.

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